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The Importance of Employee Engagement

Last year, I shared why inclusiveness and building internal communities is so important. While this is still true, so much around the conversation with regard to diversity and inclusion has changed in Silicon Valley.

When this conversation first started, we were solely focused on representation ‒ recruiting diverse talent and the numbers. Later, the conversation shifted to inclusion, intersectionality and how a company creates a culture that is accepting of individuals from all backgrounds and celebrates their diverse unique perspectives. Now in rolling out of our third year, we realize that inclusion, belonging and engagement are just as important measures to consider.

This year we hired over 2,000 people and were able to maintain our ethnic and gender diversity through this growth.

In the year ahead, we’re planning to double down on three areas: diversity councils, employee resource groups and inclusion programs. Our strength has been our Executive Diversity Council and our Yelp Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Our Executive Diversity Council is made up of influential leaders who are not only passionate about diversity but inclusion as well. We gather regularly to hear what each leader can do within their organization to contribute to creating a sense of belonging amongst our employees.

Earlier this summer, you may have heard that some organizations are doing away with Employee Resource Groups. Our ERGs have put on hundreds of events this past year across all of our offices that highlight and celebrate their unique perspectives and experiences. For us, a top down/bottom up approach to our inclusion programming has worked the best.

We’ve been measuring our inclusion programming the last two years through annual Employee Engagement and Manager Feedback surveys. We have noticed some positive results and we’re listening to find out what we can do better. Here’s one I’ll share with you:

While there is still room for improvement in many areas like ethnic diversity in our leadership ranks, I believe we are heading in the right direction with our continued focus on creating an environment that is not only welcoming but encouraging to people from all backgrounds. We’re continuously analyzing what worked, what didn’t and why. To that end, we’re embarking on public-facing research to surface strategies that tackle the diversity problem in tech and that we hope other companies will learn from.

Looking ahead, we’re really excited to open a Yelp office in Washington D.C. to hire 500 employees primarily in sales and marketing positions. Washington D.C. is one of the nation’s most diverse cities, displaying what the country will eventually be by 2040 — majority minority. As we have tried to do with existing office locations, we hope our new D.C. office will mirror the demographics of the surrounding population.