At Outbrain, we’ve been on a mission: to have the makeup of our company reflect the makeup of the world – and to become true leaders in diversity, equity & inclusion in our industry. You’ll see us continue to push, to seek outside help and creative solutions. We’ll never be finished, but the hope is that the Outbrain you see today will continually evolve and benefit from a wider range of voices, experiences and talents. The company will surely be better for it, and hopefully the industry as well.
First and foremost, that means we need to bring people of different backgrounds, particularly more people of color, into our organization on every level. This is an incredibly important task – and thus it’s not the kind of thing you can just hope works out.
What we’ve learned is that tangibly improving diversity and inclusion requires a proactive, long term approach that is company wide and is a constant priority. Most likely, it requires outside help and an honest, unfiltered assessment of where you are, where you need to be, and what might be getting in your way.
Beyond hiring, we also believe it is incumbent on us to elevate awareness of racial issues both inside and outside the company over the past year. This is too important to ignore, and we should never be afraid of having an open dialogue in the workplace.
In October, I was appointed as the company’s first DE&I Officer. We’ve taken an aggressive, multi pronged approach to improve DEI at Outbrain. Over the past few months we have:
- Partnered with the DEI consulting firm Bias Inc to initiate a training and education program.
- Formed a DEI council featuring members from multiple Outbrain offices
- Conducted regular workshops for leaders and managers focused on subjects such as unconscious bias and working through specific conflicts
- Expanded demographics question set for employee surveys
- Partnered with Jopwell, a diversity hiring platform, to help us expand our candidate pool
- Instituted a requirement that for each hiring, managers must interview at least one female candidate and one candidate of color, much like the “Rooney Rule” created by the National Football League
Of course, besides our own internal initiatives, we recognize that Outbrain has a unique relationship with many of the web’s biggest publishers, enabling the company to promote diversity messages among consumers. For instance, during Q1, Outbrain delivered 3.8 million free impressions to Stop AAPI Hate, which is helping to raise awareness of the recent rise in anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes throughout the US.
In addition, after launching our “Amplifying Together” project last year where Outbrain worked with its publishing partner to deliver messages aimed at promoting Black-owned small businesses, we focused this year on Asian-owned small businesses to continue this important work.
We are proud of what we’ve put in place thus far. But we know this mission will not be accomplished overnight. We can’t be satisfied with small victories or gestures if we want to make real, lasting changes. That’s why we are considering these efforts as just a starting point.