When people think about diversity at work, what often comes to mind is race, or gender, or even sexuality. While these are major components of diversity, at BookClub we understand that diversity is much more than just a box to check, it’s crucial to everything we do. As we head towards the launch of our product this spring, it’s important to us that our community of authors and readers know who BookClub is and what we’re working towards.
In the tech industry, only 25 percent of tech companies have a woman founder and only 37 percent have a woman in an executive role. Additionally, 83 percent of the employees and leadership team at these companies are white. Not so at BookClub, where women make up 53 percent of our leadership team and 54 percent of our employees and leadership identify as Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color. Our product, design, and engineering teams are also predominantly People of Color, which is unusual in tech, says front-end engineer, Clifford Fajardo. Product, design and engineering are also our most international teams.
“One of my goals is to create a company where everyone can be at their best,” says David Blake, CEO of BookClub. “To meet that, one of the requisite conditions is to create psychological safety and an environment where everyone can show up as their true self. Diverse teams foster that and we've made an intentional effort to consider skill, experience, and diverse backgrounds in hiring, which has yielded a rich balance of more women, People of Color, and other diverse people on the team. This is a team I am inspired by and learn so much from.”
We want you to picture yourself here
The ability to be yourself at work shouldn’t be rare, though it often can be, but at BookClub we see every component of who someone is as integral to the success of their work and BookClub’s future. At BookClub, if you ask members of the team to identify themselves, you’ll hear words like Black, Dutch, Asian, bisexual, Latino, Nicaraguan, male, Queer, gay, Liberian, straight, female, and Middle-Eastern, just to name a few.
Though BookClub is based out of Salt Lake City, we are fully remote spanning ten states and four countries, making us a multilingual and multicultural team. Just like the authors who will feature their books on our platform, our unique backgrounds have helped us develop into a team that values heterogeneity in who we interact with and what we create. Our strongest common threads are a love of reading and a desire to see learning happen in all possible ways.
Having a diverse team permeates everything we do, from how we code the product to which authors join the platform to who can see themselves in the faces of our team and the authors we’re promoting. That’s why Kevin Hawkins, Director of Product Design, came to work at BookClub. “I wanted a company that embraced alternatives to learning, had a more global way of seeing people, and matched my ethics,” Hawkins says. “Our focus on education and our default to being inclusive means that we’ll create a product that reflects the community wanting to connect with authors and each other.”
We can’t wait to build a community with you
BookClub is proud to prioritize the formation of a community—one where authors can lead new and exciting conversations, where readers can connect with each other and their favorite authors, and where words and the authors that shape them are given their due rewards. Omar Kenawi, Producer at BookClub, sees the community aspect of what we’re doing as so important that he refers to BookClub as, “ComicCon for your favorite books and authors.”
Team members from the LGBTQ+ community like Bree Martinez, BookClub’s Author Outreach and Client Relations Manager, joined the team to assist in providing more space for the stories that show that “coming out is not just a teen experience,” and that elevate Queer joy.
Rio Cyrus, BookClub’s Senior Marketing Consultant, says that having a diverse team is actually about who will be utilizing BookClub. “We have an important responsibility to provide access to authors of all levels. BookClub is capable of being a space that democratizes learning and, as long as anyone can find something for them on BookClub, we will have fulfilled that promise.”
Britt Brewer, one of our Creative Producers, agrees and says that having more diverse perspectives means BookClub can create space that didn’t previously exist. “I had two books I read over and over as a Queer teen,” Brewer says, referencing specifically Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. “There is more Queer literature for teens now, but there still isn’t enough. We can welcome those authors and give them the room to have conversations I never would have been able to have."
With a focus on providing new and different educational experiences, sharing the story behind the story, and respecting the differences of the authors and readers who join us, here at BookClub we believe that we can become the largest learning platform in the world - and the one that accepts every author and reader exactly as they come to us. Whether you’re interested in starting a book club or even working on our team, there’s a spot for you. We can’t wait for you to join us.
This piece is the first in a series of pieces about BookClub and our team. If you want to know more about who we are and what is coming this Spring, be sure to sign up for our waiting list.