How Unbounce Does Diversity

Sujan Patel
Aug 16, 2021
6 min read

In just five years, Unbounce has not only achieved pay parity and increased diversity, but improved employee engagement – all goals that far larger tech companies have struggled to achieve.

The landing page and conversion intelligence software company, which works with more than 70,000 customers and has powered more than 1.5 billion conversions worldwide, prides itself on putting people first and helping other companies to do the same thing. Its Pay Up for Progress initiative asks CEOs to pledge to prioritize pay parity and then supports them in doing so via a step-by-step toolkit, workshops, and Slack community.

We spoke to Unbounce’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager, Laura Zubick, to find out how the company is supporting managers and teams in keeping DEI at the core of everything they do. 

Unbounce’s Road to Improving DEI 

Unbounce first started to formally prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)  in 2016. At that time, the company’s CEO, Rick Perreault, took the Minerva BC Pledge to reach gender parity, which the company achieved in 2019— including across the senior leadership team. 

After many years of looking at DEI with a focus on gender, the company is now building on these foundations and lessons learned to think more inclusively about diversity. “Today, I’d say we’ve matured our DEI strategy and efforts to lead with a much more intersectional approach, considering race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, immigrant/refugee/newcomer identity, and all of the factors that make up someone’s unique identity,” Zubick says.

Through this journey, in addition to seeing a 20% increase in women in technical roles, Unbounce has achieved pay parity for employees regardless of gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, immigrant, refugee or newcomer identification, caregiving status, and disability. While the company acknowledges it still has a lot of room for continued improvement when it comes to DEI, Unbounce has also seen a 33% rise in new hires who identify as People of Color and positive lifts in employee engagement scores, with 93% of employees saying they would recommend Unbounce as a great place to work. 

Zubick believes that diversity has improved Unbounce’s competitiveness. She gives their recently launched AI Smart Traffic feature, which gives customers an average 30% lift in their conversions, as an example. It works by matching visitors with the landing page that they’re most likely to convert on. “That’s just one example of where we see building diverse teams really leading to customer value through innovation,” she says.

Unbounce’s dedication to DEI has seen the company drastically improve by all measurements, including representation, pay parity, engagement, and innovation. However, it took more than just a verbal commitment to DEI to achieve this. It also took updating processes, providing regular training, different forms of data analysis and setting up space to have uncomfortable conversations…and it’s a continual work in progress. Let’s break down Unbounce’s approach to DEI to take a closer look. 

Rethinking the Goals: What DEI Means at Unbounce 

At many companies, DEI initiatives prioritize attracting more diverse recruits to improve the percentage of women and minorities across the organization. Yet at Unbounce, while these remain crucial parts of DEI, the company gives priority to improving the employee experience once a diverse workforce has been hired. 

“Our diversity, equity and inclusion strategy is guided by an overarching goal that we want every employee to be excited to bring their full, authentic self to work,” Zubick explains. “We believe that when employees each bring their unique experiences, background, and perspectives to work while embracing the same from others that we learn from each other, we innovate, and we co-create an environment where Unbouncers can do the best work of their careers.”

She recommends that companies looking to increase diversity focus on company culture. “Ask yourself if you have created the inclusive environment at your company that makes you deserve to attract a more diverse candidate pool in the first place. Will a diverse group of people be supported and have a sense of belonging once they are hired?”

This, she believes, is not only the right thing to do, but will also naturally increase diversity in new hires. “If you are doing the work internally, these are things you can talk about genuinely with candidates and they will be attracted to this as an environment where they will thrive.”

Supporting People Leaders in Building More Diverse Teams

In general, DEI initiatives might be led by senior leadership, but improving company culture often comes down to your managers. These leaders shape employees’ experiences of the workplace and the team-specific culture, which means they can be powerful ambassadors of DEI.

At Unbounce, managers are called People Leaders. Zubick says, “The role that our People Leaders play is so key, along with the role that every Unbouncer plays really. These are the people who are the champions across our teams. They’re making decisions and having conversations on a daily basis with their teams. Their role is absolutely crucial to advancing DEI.”

Unbounce is always searching for ways to support People Leaders in championing DEI. Zubick gives hiring managers as an example. “We can say, [hiring managers] need to be accountable for building diverse teams,’ but we need to be able to ensure we’re supporting our hiring managers to understand what that means and how they can prioritize it, and we need to set up the tracking and the processes to know if it’s being done or not.”

To do that, Unbounce focuses on training, measuring, and creating hiring processes that promote diversity.

Education and Training

For starters, Unbounce only hires People Leaders who value DEI and understand the importance of being people-first. But it also recognizes that DEI needs to be constantly worked on. As such, it provides regular training and education. 

“Everyone in their onboarding process meets with the DEI Manager and goes through what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean at Unbounce and how these things show up in work,” Zubick explains. “That starts everyone off with a consistent understanding of DEI at the company and starts to give people consistent language to use.” 

Unbounce believes that learning and development should be ongoing. It works with Canada-based Bakau Consulting, an inclusion and anti-racism consulting company, to deliver quarterly workshops on various DEI topics. Zubick says, “This is a way to make sure that everyone has a similar understanding of DEI concepts and that we can move forward with a common understanding of best practices.” 

The company is also in the process of launching DEI Attributes and accompanying self-directed learning modules “to help Unbouncers understand the expectations around DEI at the company, and how they can personally develop to better act on those expectations.” These attributes describe the traits and behaviours someone would embrace as they go on a DEI development journey, beginning from establishing the foundational basics for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, and continuing on to how to co-create and environment of physical and psychological safety, foster inclusion and belonging, encourage equitable growth, and how to be a changemaker in the workplace and beyond. 

Then, it works with individual departments and teams to help them apply DEI to their specific work. Discussions around DEI priorities and how these apply to company goals are also frequently held with senior leadership.

“Talking about DEI often in leadership meetings empowers people to lean into having the uncomfortable conversations,” she notes. “This really increases the empathy and connection we have amongst our teams.”

Rethinking Hiring Processes

Unbounce has also turned its attention to processes, with the aim of supporting People Leaders in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. 

“We recognized a need to be more intentional about building diverse teams, and so we reviewed and overhauled our recruitment process to combat unconscious bias, create more inclusive candidate interactions, and actively seek diversity in our pipeline,” Zubick says.

Expanding on this  further, she outlines five actions that made a difference in Unbounce’s outcomes:

  1. Building relationships in the community with groups focused on supporting women and the BIPOC community in the workplace/tech industry, like Ladies Learning Code,Women in Male-Dominated Industries meet-up group, and First Nations Technology Council.
  2. Defining non-negotiable skills for a role and determining a consistent structure for what questions to ask and in what order in the interview to each candidate to limit unconscious bias.
  3. Ensuring job descriptions use inclusive language.
  4. Having a kickoff meeting with each hiring manager as they have a job opportunity to discuss the areas in which their current team is lacking representation, as well as how they can prioritize sourcing a diverse candidate pool for the role.
  5. Training hiring managers on how to be aware of unconscious bias, rate interview answers consistently, how to ask probing questions appropriately, what not to ask, and how to create an environment of inclusivity in the process, e.g., building diverse hiring panels to not only mitigate unconscious bias but also  so that candidates can see themselves reflected in the company

These five actions, combined with Unbounce’s ongoing DEI training and education, give staff the tools they need to recruit diverse team members and create an inclusive work environment. 

Progress, Not Perfection: Committing to DEI 

Zubick acknowledges that improving DEI can seem daunting, especially for companies just getting started. For that reason, she recommends focusing on making continuous progress to avoid getting discouraged.

“Right from the beginning,” she explains, “we’ve always adopted a mindset of progress over perfection. We know we cannot do, and we cannot change, everything overnight. We’re the first to admit that we still have a lot of room to grow, as does probably every company. And so, we know that we just need to continually focus on applying what we learn  and making progress.”

She also underscores the importance of commitment from senior leadership. “I think it is absolutely key for companies just starting out to really ensure DEI is being stated as a priority from the top and actually properly resourced.” 

Unbounce’s DEI initiatives started small. Yet the company’s commitment to steady improvements, led by the CEO and leadership, has created real change at the organization.

Today, the company has several well-established processes to support DEI: comprehensive training, self-identified demographic data, flexible and remote work, inclusive hiring strategies, intentional spaces for employees to process and discuss their lived experiences and more. Yet, Unbounce isn’t resting on its laurels: it continues working on making progress every single day.