Pandora is setting ambitious workplace diversity goals that would set it apart from the vast majority of tech businesses.
Accompanying the release of its 2016 diversity report, the music-streaming company tells Inc. that it intends to have a workforce comprising 45 percent employees of color by the year 2020.
To achieve the goal, Pandora says it plans to start bringing the demographics of its four largest offices in line with the populations of the cities where they're located. That's a major win for tech workers of color, as Pandora's largest offices are in Oakland, Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago--four of the most diverse cities in America.
Nationally, African-Americans and Hispanics make up 13 percent and 18 percent of the population, respectively, but in the cities Pandora has targeted, the representation of those groups is more than 20 percent. (The one exception is Los Angeles, which is 49 percent Hispanic, but only 9 percent African-American, according to the latest figures by the U.S. Census Bureau.)
"Pandora's service has always been about what is personalized and what is tailored, and we're going to take the same approach as it pertains to our diversity efforts," says Lisa Lee, Pandora's director of diversity and inclusion. Currently, Pandora employs more than 2,400 people. "We want to reflect the local communities."
Pandora is among the tech companies that have made the most progress when it comes to diversity. Already, 48 percent of Pandora's employees are women, but its representation of African-Americans and Hispanics is not where the company wants it to be. Since last year, Pandora was able to raise its representation of black employees from 4 to 5 percent, while Hispanic representation increased from 7 to 8 percent. Altogether, people of color currently make up 35 percent of Pandora's workforce. These gains have given the company the confidence to announce its goals publicly, Lee says.
"While we've moved in the right direction ... we want to ensure that we have a north star to where we're going, and that it is measurable and accountable," Lee said.
Among the brightest spots in Pandora's latest report is the progress the company has made with the hiring of interns. More than 57 percent of Pandora's 2016 interns were people of color, the company says. The representation of black interns increased from 8 percent in 2015 to 19 percent in 2016, while the representation of Hispanic interns grew from 1 percent a year ago to 10 percent in this class.
"By defining clear goals, as well as a strategy to get there, Pandora is embodying an effective model for creating diversity in the workplace," says Karla Monterroso, vice president of programs at Code2040, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to get more black and Hispanic engineers into the tech industry. "Businesses everywhere can look to Pandora as an example."
Pandora is also committing by 2020 to making promotions representative of the company's workforce. If 48 percent of employees are women, then 48 percent of promotions should be given to women, Lee says.
"This is one way that we can contribute to closing the leadership gap," Lee said.
Aside from representation goals, Pandora also has committed itself to creating events and partnerships that cater to the various musical tastes of its diverse base of users and artists. This includes events like Pandora Presents: The ATL Live, a hip-hop concert in Atlanta, as well as Noche de Musica and a "Same Love" Valentine's Day 2016 ad campaign.
"This is another step toward ensuring that ... we are lifting up different kinds of artists and different kinds of music," Lee says.