We always say that Spotiy reflects culture—but we are also shaped by it. And that means it’s important for us to ensure that both our platform and our company reflect the very best of the culture for the good of our listeners, employees, and planet. We do this through employee resource groups and mental health offerings, sustainability initiatives, and the representation of a diverse set of voices on our platform—as well as much more.
We take stock of all this every year in our annual Equity & Impact Report. There’s a lot to read, so we broke it out into a few key takeaways from some of our leaders who spend their days ensuring our purpose translates into actions.
Read on for a discussion with Senior Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Travis Robinson and VP, Global Head of Equity and Impact Elizabeth Nieto on equity at Spotify in 2021. You can also read about our impact work throughout the year.
In the 2021 Equity & Impact Report, we say that one part of our mission is to create positive impact in the communities we touch. What are some examples of Spotify fulfilling that mission in 2021?
Travis: We’ve been on this journey for a while, and I’m excited to see the progress we’re making toward our mission on making that impact. When I think about the impact we have on our communities, internally and externally, I know we are also impacting the critical industry actors—being those in tech, media, creators, or artists.
When it comes to workforce representation, we saw positive progress forward in our internal workforce representation of Spotifiers from underrepresented communities. This goes beyond U.S. race and ethnicity, but also gender representation in a variety of locations and disciplines, such as women in technology. This has been a consistent effort of our team across inclusive hiring and diversity recruiting efforts.
In 2021, our cross-functional working groups that focus on DIB (diversity, inclusion, and belonging) within their specific business areas made positive strides. In our marketing organization, the Freemium Marketing Equity Initiative (FMEI) began the work of training all U.S. marketers in inclusive storytelling. Their core focus is reducing bias and stereotypes and eliminating microaggressions through our marketing campaigns. In 2022, we will be expanding this effort with our content organization while expanding focus on creator diversity. In addition, the work the FMEI team did showed an increase in marketing spend with Black-owned or operated creative agencies.
One final example of the internal impact is through the road map created by our Racial Equity Coalition. Every year they develop and implement our BLK Workforce Development Conference, which is focused on providing a unique experience for our Black employees across the world. It emphasizes conversations on professional development, industry engagement on the amplification for Black creators, and the opportunities collectively we can focus on to improve the Black experience in the workplace. In 2022, we are looking forward to going deeper with a specialized workforce development conference for Black employees in Europe.
How did we make strides to make Spotify a more equitable company for our band members in 2021?
Elizabeth: As Travis mentioned, we’ve made strides in workforce representation by intentionally focusing on the hiring process. We developed an inclusive interview training comprehensive program for interviewers. The 16-module series is based on the expertise of behavioral change specialists from MindGym, a group dedicated to psychology-based organizational transformation. It provides a foundational knowledge on what inclusive hiring means, the recruitment process (with an emphasis on inclusion), and how to create a more inclusive selection process.
In the last year, we also introduced Inclusive Hiring Talks in the U.S. to address racial disparity issues and engage in conversations around what it means to be a Spotifier in the U.S. With a focus on aligning people on shared experiences, Inclusive Hiring Talks helped us understand why inclusivity is important and why all candidates are worthy of consideration.
We also designed and implemented Raising the Volume, our first Spotify-branded virtual recruiting conference. Raising the Volume is geared toward women and nonbinary professionals in audio, media, and technology. This conference was designed to inspire, teach, motivate, and attract talent to Spotify with the hope that attendees would leave feeling empowered to raise their voices and make bold moves.
How did we make strides to make Spotify a more equitable company for creators in 2021?
Elizabeth: In May, we unveiled Frequency, a global initiative and holistic destination for celebrating Black art, entertainment, creativity, culture, and community both on and off platform. Frequency marks an extension of Spotify’s ongoing commitment to and investment in Black voices. Through the rollout of new content, cultural partnerships, and an ambassador program, Frequency aims to further connect the Black community to upcoming and established Black creators.
We also launched the intertwined“Raising the Frequency Ambassador program, which offers a $50,000 scholarship to Black college students aspiring to pursue careers in music and tech. The program also provides donation matches of $25,000 to select community organizations and a songwriting camp to connect artists, producers, and songwriters.
And finally, we have seen the work of equity and increased opportunities for people of color through efforts in our Spotify Talk Studios organization. Through the work of our SoundUp team, Behind the Mic was launched in 2021 to expand opportunities to members of underserved communities aspiring to careers as podcast producers, sound engineers, and other behind-the-scenes roles in podcasting.
While we are continuing to build stronger community and belonging for all Spotifiers, we are proud of the progress in diversity, inclusion, and belonging and the many teams across Spotify that are committed and collaborating with us.