Our Pledge to Inclusion and Diversity: 1 Year Later

Lack of diversity in tech has been a long-standing problem, but in recent months it’s become increasingly apparent that inclusion is more than an aspirational need. Diversity is the DNA that creates robust, flourishing environments primed for tough conversations and progressive thinking at UnifyID.

Last June, UnifyID was one of 33 companies that signed the White House Tech Inclusion Pledge on the eve of President Obama’s Global Entrepreneurship Innovation Summit 2016 to ensure that our employees reflect the diverse nature of the American workforce.

Although UnifyID is a small startup, we still want to lead in all areas of our business—and diversity is no exception. As an inaugural signatory of this agreement, the first of its kind, we proudly reaffirm our commitment to being an industry leader in promoting inclusion for all.

Our team on a normal day in the office.

The pledge was three-part, with the central aim of increasing representation of underrepresented groups:

“Implement and publish company-specific goals to recruit, retain, and advance diverse technology talent, and operationalize concrete measures to create and sustain an inclusive culture.”

This was a task we have invested significant time and effort into accomplishing, particularly in our recruitment operations. Many job seekers and experts alike have criticized the inconsistent process around the technical interview, noting its irrelevance to the workplace and its unnecessary biases against women. Taking into account these guidelines from Code2040, a collaborating organization of the Tech Inclusion Pledge, we’ve created a low stress, context-relevant, and fun language-agnostic technical challenge to improve the non-biased screening in our recruiting process.

“Annually publish data and progress metrics on the diversity of our technology workforce across functional areas and seniority levels.”

It is important to us that we are transparent about our gender, racial, and ethnic data because diversity and inclusion is a core part of our company mission to be authentic, be yourself. As such, this report is our first attempt at this, and we hope to make future updates more frequently.

On our team, 70 percent are people of color and 24 percent are women. Immigrants make up a significant part of the American workforce, and we are also proud to call UnifyID the workplace of immigrants who collectively represent 17 nationalities (including our interns). Paulo, one of our machine learning engineers, has quipped, “the office sometimes feels like a Model UN conference!” While our size makes us unable to release more detailed breakouts (we respect employee privacy), we will continue to release diversity data in a timely and transparent fashion.

“Invest in partnerships to build a diverse pipeline of technology talent to increase our ability to recognize, develop and support talent from all backgrounds.”

Here in the Bay Area, we are surrounded by terrific organizations that support underrepresented groups in tech, and we’ve been fortunate to be involved in these events. Some of these events include the Out for Undergrad (O4U) annual Tech Conference, which allowed us to connect with many high-achieving LGBTQ+ undergraduates from across the country, as well as the Y Combinator-hosted Female Founders Conference, or even SF Pride last month!

Our head of Product, Grace Chang, at last year’s Out for Undergrad (O4U) Tech Conference!

Diversity strengthens us as a company and as a country, so this remains one of our foremost priorities as we continue to grow (we’re hiring) and we hope to see improvement in our workplace and in the industry as a whole. We are thrilled that today, the number of companies that have signed the pledge has risen to 80.

We encourage more companies to sign this Tech Inclusion Pledge here.

Interning At UnifyID

As spring semester at Purdue was ending and college was winding down, many of my friends in the computer science program were getting ready for their summer internships. Most of them were at big name companies, and people already had their mentors and projects assigned. My desire to start a company in the future and make a strong impact during the summer led me down a different path. I decided to intern at a startup, one with less than 10 employees, where I hadn’t heard of the product before I applied for the job. The only thing I knew was that this startup, UnifyID, was working on a technology that I believed was the future and really wanted to be a part of.

The first day I got to the office, I knew that I was definitely in for a great summer. I met my mentor (the CEO), a PhD and Stanford Professor and the head Machine Learning Engineer, a dual PhD from Carnegie Mellon. Rather than having to sit through a long orientation, I was told to look through the codebase and made a contribution on the first day! This trend continued throughout the summer, as I was involved in a lot of the product architecture discussions and everything I did went into production.

Some of the interesting projects I got to work on included creating and managing a Cassandra cluster, working with OpenCV for Facial Recognition, and lots of data collection! I also implemented security protocols, registration/login flow and challenge flows. On the non-technical side, I learned a lot about day-to-day company operations, investor relations, hiring teammates, product design, the road to TechCrunch Disrupt Runner-up, and the importance of building great company culture.

Photo by Oren Haskins

The culture at UnifyID is brimming with hard-working, qualified, and interesting people. Everyone understands the startup grind, truly believes in the product, and knows that hard work is the only thing stopping UnifyID from becoming a huge success. Daily news reaffirms how terrible passwords are, and there is a really good chance that they will be replaced, the question is–who is going to build the best solution to do this? After my experience, I am very confident that the team at UnifyID is the right one to solve the problem.

Overall, my decision to work at UnifyID turned out to be an excellent one. I liked it so much that I still work part-time, during college. No where else would I have gotten to work on changing the future of authentication, to sit right next to the COO, or to work directly under a Stanford professor as an undergraduate intern. I also wouldn’t have been able to have discussions with so many highly qualified engineers about state of the art security or machine learning, and then proceed to implement them.

We are hiring and located a few steps away from the ballpark in SoMa, San Francisco!