Diversity and inclusion at Webflow: it's (past) time to do more

We believed that we could cultivate a diverse and inclusive workforce organically. We were wrong — and now, we’re committed to making it right.

Mariah Driver
August 29, 2019
Announcements

As a globally distributed company, our potential is massive. We have the opportunity to bring a variety of cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and identities to our work. More than that, we have a responsibility to support and champion our entire team in radically inclusive and empowering ways.

Enter Webflow’s dual missions: one for the world, and one for us. We’re on a mission to enable everyone to create for the web — and empower our team to lead fulfilling, impactful lives while we do it. 

We believe that to fulfill both of our dual missions, we need to create a diverse and radically inclusive company that empowers each member of our team because of, not in spite of, their unique identities, backgrounds, and perspectives. Doing so will not only empower our team members to bring their unique perspectives and backgrounds to the table — it will allow us to see and build for untapped potential our product would have otherwise ignored. The truth? We’re far from where we want to be. 

Until now, we’ve believed that we could excel in our diversity and inclusion goals organically — with a company culture that’s driven by core behaviors (values) and good intentions. But in spite of our efforts, we’ve failed to build a team as diverse or inclusive as we want and need to build a product and company that empowers everyone. We can’t manifest the significant change we seek without making a significant effort to do better. 

Today, we’re excited to share our first step towards making that effort — and I’m honored to announce my new role as Webflow’s first Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Why me — and why now?

I’ve been increasingly taking on pieces of this role for over a year — and in the white-spaces of my resume lies a difficult truth: I’ve been doing this work my entire life. 

But for the first time in my professional experience, I’m not alone in this effort. Over the past year, I’ve worked closely with Webflow’s CEO, Vlad, to reflect on our blind spots and failures. We’ve practiced radical transparency and radical responsibility — even when it hurt. Through this work, we’ve learned that diversity and inclusion is not Webflow’s challenge — it’s Webflow’s greatest opportunity. 

We’re investing in diversity and inclusion as we grow our team because it’s the right thing to do. 

And what qualifies me to drive our efforts for building a more diverse, more inclusive company? Well, there is no “right” person to do this job — because it’s really everyone’s job. One thing I bring to the table is a personal understanding of what true inclusion and belonging feels like — and what it doesn’t feel like. In fact, this is a lesson I learned when I first joined Webflow. 

During my first year at Webflow, I was often the only woman at the table and the only African American in the room. But at the time, I would have told you I felt like I belonged. I got along with the guys, was a part of most inside jokes, and, at the end of the day, felt lucky that in spite of my identity, I had a seat at the table. 

It was not until I began my work with Vlad that I realized the truth about inclusion and belonging: if we define belonging as something our team members feel in spite of their unique identities, we fail everyone. When I joined the company as the first African American, Webflow failed me and I didn’t even know it.

My work is to serve as a catalyst where team members feel like they belong because of their unique identities. I may be the first Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — but I’m not a team of one. I’ll be working alongside our talented People team, every department lead, and our executive team to make sure we’re investing where it matters and constantly checking our blindspots. 

What does the future of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion look like at Webflow?

Radical candor: we’re still figuring that out. At Webflow, we believe that what matters most is not what you do — but how you do it. So, I’ll start there, with our “how”: the core beliefs and commitments that will guide and sustain this work at Webflow. 

Our core beliefs about diversity and inclusion

  1. If we can build a team that champions diverse perspectives and experiences, we can build a product that will truly change the world
  2. This work needs to start with empathy. We all have blind spots, and if we collectively challenge and address those blind spots as a means of personal and team growth, we’ll change lives.
  3. Company-level measurement doesn't actually measure diversity — it measures representation. Diversity has the greatest impact at the team level
  4. We’re missing a critical part of the conversation: intersectionality. If we don’t acknowledge how intersecting identities affect individual experiences, we’ll fail to create a culture that accommodates everyone. 
  5. If we want to truly encourage our team members to “bring their whole selves to work,” we have to acknowledge how forces outside the office impact their lives. 
  6. If we, as an organization, are uncomfortable talking about diversity — we’re doing it right 

Our commitments

  1. We’ll create a space that allows for compassionate and critical dialogues to take place about how we, as a company, can do better for our team
  2. We’ll confront biases and exclusionary behavior with empathy, integrity, and candor
  3. We’ll approach this work with an eagerness to learn, move quickly to address immediate needs, encourage radical candor for where we can improve, and iterate (and iterate again) until our solutions create meaningful, scalable, and positive impact 
  4. We’ll work to create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to grow and thrive, regardless of their starting point 
  5. We’ll hold our hiring managers accountable for building the best teams — not just hiring the best candidates*
  6. We’ll hold ourselves, as leaders, accountable for rewarding inclusive behavior and providing our teams with the empathy, support, and accountability they need to be their most inclusive selves

The investment in this new role marks a new chapter for Webflow. A chapter in which diversity and inclusion are non-negotiable components of our ability to fulfill our dual missions. 

In the meantime, I’ll be writing and sharing about our efforts, our successes, and our failures. We want to create the change we want to see in the workplace — and we want to both challenge and empower other companies to do the same.

*Editor's note: I like to illustrate this point with an anecdote from my own experience. Way back in my college days, I got the chance to go to the Mountain Aire Festival here in California. The year I attended, Phil Lesh & Friends (a supergroup formed from former members and friends of the Grateful Dead) played. They had 3 guitarists — arguably, some of the world's best — on stage at once. And it. Was. Awful.

Mariah Driver

Fancy meeting you here! I’m the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Webflow. If you're in the market for dad jokes, dog GIFS, and insights into what we're working on at Webflow, follow me on Twitter!

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