Building for Better: Gender Inclusion at Betterment

Betterment sits at the intersection of two industries with large, historical gender gaps. We’re working to change that—for ourselves and our industries.

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Since our founding, we’ve maintained a commitment to consistently build a better company and product for our customers and our customers-to-be. Part of that commitment includes reflecting the diversity of those customers.

Betterment sits at the intersection of finance and technology—two industries with large, historical diversity gaps, including women and underrepresented populations. We’re far from perfect, but this is what we’re doing to embrace the International Women’s Day charge and work toward better gender balance at Betterment and in our world.

Building Diversity And Inclusion At Betterment

Change starts at the heart of the matter. For Betterment, this means working to build a company of passionate individuals who reflect our customers and bring new and different perspectives to our work.

Our internal Diversity and Inclusion Committee holds regular meetings to discuss current events and topics, highlights recognition months (like Black History and Women’s History Months), and celebrates the many backgrounds and experiences of our employees.

We’ve also developed a partnership with Peoplism. According to Caitlin Tudor-Savin, HR Business Partner, “This is more than a check-the-box activity, more than a one-off meeting with an attendance sheet. By partnering with Peoplism and building a long-term, action-oriented plan, we’re working to create real change in a sustainable fashion.”

One next step we’re excited about is an examination of our mentorship program to make sure that everyone at Betterment has access to mentors. The big idea: By building empathy and connection among ourselves, we can create an inclusive environment that cultivates innovative ideas and a better product for our customers.

Engaging The Tech Community At Large

At Betterment, we’re working to creating change in the tech industry and bringing women into our space. By hosting meetups for Women Who Code, a non-profit organization that empowers women through technology, we’re working to engage this community directly.

Rather than getting together to hear presentations, meetups are designed to have a group-led dynamic. Members break out and solve problems together, sharing and honing skills, while building community and support. This also fosters conversation, natural networking, and the chance for women to get their foot in the door.

Jesse Harrelson, a Betterment Software Engineer, not only leads our hosting events, they found a path to Betterment through Women Who Code. “Consistency is key,” said Jesse. “Our Women Who Code meetups become a way to track your progression. It’s exciting to see how I’ve developed since I first started attending meetups, and how some of our long-time attendees have grown as engineers and as professionals.”

Building A Community Of Our Own

In 2018, our Women of Betterment group had an idea. They’d attended a number of networking and connection events, and the events never felt quite right. Too often, the events involved forced networking and stodgy PowerPoint presentations, with takeaways amounting to little more than a free glass of wine.

Enter the SHARE (Support, Hire, Aspire, Relate, Empower) Series. Co-founder Emily Knutsen wanted “to build a network of diverse individuals and foster deeper connections among women in our community.” Through the SHARE Series, we hope to empower future leaders in our industry to reach their goals and develop important professional connections. While the series focuses on programming for women and those who identify as women, it is inclusive to everyone in our community who wish to be allies and support our mission.

We developed the SHARE Series to create an authentic and conversational environment, one where attendees help guide the conversations and future event themes. Meetings thus far have included a panel discussion on breaking into tech from the corporate world and a small-group financial discussion led by financial experts from Betterment and beyond.

“We’re excited that organizations are already reaching out to collaborate,” Emily said. “We’ve gotten such an enthusiastic response about designing future events around issues that women (and everyone!) face, such as salary negotiations.”

Getting Involved

Want to join us as we work to build a more inclusive and dynamic community? Our next SHARE Series event features CBS News Business Analyst and CFP® professional Jill Schlesinger, as we celebrate her new book, The Dumb Things Smart People Do with Their Money: Thirteen Ways to Right Your Financial Wrongs.

You can also register to attend our Women Who Code meetups, and join engineers from all over New York as we grow, solve, and connect with one another.