The TechTown Pledge and Beyond — Extensis' Commitment to Diversity

July 1, 2020

These days, discussions about the need for greater diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront. Where they should be. Here at Extensis, we recognize the problem and have seen firsthand how it specifically affects the technology industry. We’re seeing the problem in Portland, Oregon, and we know that it affects other cities with thriving tech companies across our country — and around the world.

These issues are not easy to fix.

We often focus on making good things better. Our products that make collections tidy and organized; workflows streamlined and automated; and assets more accessible and shareable. But no amount of code is going to solve this problem. It’s not something we can simply tackle in a SCRUM process and mark as done.

True advocacy requires an entirely new way of thinking and it requires a constantly evolving, adaptable strategy.

Back in January, we signed on to the TechTown PDX Diversity Pledge. You can read our CEO Toby Martin’s thoughts about this commitment in this blog post. In order to solve these issues on a larger scale, we need to focus first on our company and our own community — and the pledge is an excellent catalyst for ensuring that ensuring this remains a top, ongoing priority. Our CEO has joined the steering committee to keep Extensis actively engaged in strategy for improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the Portland tech industry.

Amid the recent acts of police violence and nationwide protests, we’ve all been having more discussions about what we can do to facilitate change. We felt that it was time to look at the numbers and have a focused conversation with our whole team about the specific challenges facing the technology industry. So, the Extensis team had an open discussion with Jared Wiener, the software industry liaison for TechTown PDX and Prosper Portland, right on the heels of their 2019 TechTown Annual Report being released.

The report uses survey information from employees of companies that have made the pledge to identify areas that need attention and monitor gradual progress overtime — for these companies and the local industry as a whole. What were some of the key takeaways from the report this year?

These companies scored well with education and training. Partnerships and hiring practices showed an improvement, but overall, the greatest need for improvement was identified in career development. White men were still significantly more likely to hold positions of power, especially when compared to women of color. Understanding that this is the current greatest pain point allows TechTown to strategically shift gears and focus more efforts on these issues.

Jared Wiener explained:

“The ultimate goal of TechTown is to see more diverse talent being hired into these companies — and see that talent being retained. But you’re not going to see that in a year-by-year change. The data shows disturbing discrepancies and experiences for women of color. At the same time, the fact that the data can shine a light on these experiences enables us to know where to focus our interventions. You can’t make real progress unless you know where the real challenges are."

Over the coming months, many members of the Extensis team will participate in the TechTown PDX AllyShift workshops to further educate ourselves. As a company, we’re eagerly looking forward to participating in the next TechTown survey. We’ll continue to work towards developing more supportive hiring practices and career advancement strategies so that Extensis isn’t just about acceptance. We want Extensis to be a company where individuals from all backgrounds can truly thrive and achieve their personal best.

Change happens slowly, and we’re committed to help keep making advancements. We know it’s a marathon, not a sprint — and we’re all in it for the long run.