An Open Email From NewsCred's CEO on Gender Equality

An Open Email From NewsCred’s CEO on Gender Equality

by Shafqat Islam

4 minute read

Editor’s note: This article has been copied and pasted from an email sent to NewsCred employees from Co-Founder + CEO, Shafqat Islam, on 2019’s International Women’s Day.

Team –

Since I’m in Geneva taking some time off, I had a bit of time to reflect and wanted to get out this note today given it’s International Women’s Day.

While I see a lot of companies and leaders saying things, tweeting, and using words like “empower,” “highlight,” “recognize,” etc, I think we need to be doing a better job collectively as an industry to start “paying” and “promoting” instead. I also think companies should be more transparent about the state of diversity generally, but also specifically for issues around gender imbalance, pay equity, management team composition etc. I think we’ll find there are a lot of companies, like ours, that have work to do. Which I think is fine as long as self-awareness is coupled with action.

So let’s start with transparency. Here are some numbers for NewsCred:

Overall split: We are about 40% women overall in the company. In US/UK, it’s about 50/50 exactly. Over the past year or two, we’ve actually been doing a good job hiring women in Bangladesh (especially in engineering roles), so I think that overall number will continue to improve. In Bangladesh, where women make up a smaller part of the workforce (which needs to be urgently fixed), we’re actually way ahead of benchmark and will continue to set an example. But overall, with a bit more effort in all locations, we’ll be pretty well-balanced.

Managers: Women make up about 40% of the managers at NewsCred. Given the overall numbers, that means women get promoted to managers at the same rate as men. But we need to push to get that number to 50%.

Exec Team: Women make up only 33% of our exec team. No excuses here – we must get better and that’s on me and Charles. We’re committed to getting this number to 50% as fast as reasonably possible. We won’t set a quota and we will ensure we hire the best person available. But we are committed ensuring we have a diverse pipeline, seeking references for great women execs, taking steps to remove unconscious bias from screening or interview process, etc. Given our amazing women at various management levels at NewsCred, we should also look to continue to promote more from within.

Raises: 42% of raises last year were to women. Which is essentially the same as our relative gender split, and means that women at NewsCred get raises at the same proportion as men on a relative basis (i.e. if every single person got a raise, this number would be 40%).

Promotions: 52% of promotions last year were to women. Which is well ahead of the relative gender split. Really happy to see this.

Gender Pay Gap: At NewsCred, we have equal pay for equal work. We continuously monitor this — often quarterly, and in some cases, any time we hire a new person. For example, at management and exec positions, we’ll rebalance salaries after a new hire if we believe something is not right. If we notice discrepancies (mistakes, always unintentional, sometimes happen), we try to fix immediately.

Gender Diversity in Teams: Within specific teams, there are certain examples where we can continue to make improvements in terms of gender diversity. For example, we need more women in sales and engineering.

Parental Leave: I believe we have the best parental leave of a company of our size. We should promote and celebrate this widely so all companies follow suit. As a reminder, outside of Papua New Guinea and Suriname, the US is the only country in the world without paid parental leave. Which is absurd. So we are good here – with 12-16 weeks of maternal/paternal leave – although we probably need an additional Mothers’ room!

International Women’s Day has been going on for over 100 years. How crazy is that? And we still have so much work to do. The US is not in the top SIXTY nations in terms of legal equality for working women. The UK is 15. We need to push for laws that will change the status quo because that will encourage more labor force participation and drive equal pay. Not to mention, equality of opportunity allows women to make the choices that are best for them, their families and their communities. However, let’s not wait around for lawmakers. As private companies, we need to do our part too.

What are things we can do differently or better at NewsCred?

Despite the opportunities to improve, I hope you are all proud to work here. I certainly am and would like to thank all of you who have helped ensure we continue to focus and improve in these areas.