Inside Photoroom
The Photoroom 2023 diversity report: our pathway to a more inclusive workplace
Lyline Lim
Lyline LimMarch 8, 2024

In 2022, Photoroom faced a diversity problem. We had hired more engineers called Matthieu than we had women. Although we had company KPIs focused on sourcing and hiring from underrepresented groups and weekly company-wide discussions on diversifying our global talent pool, our approach to diversity just wasn’t working.

Photoroom is a global company, serving users all over the world–from new moms in New Mexico to new businesses in Thailand. We wanted our team to reflect the diversity of our customer base, especially as we’re building the future of visual commerce. 

If we didn’t take meaningful steps to fix things, the future would look very male, very white, and potentially very Matthieu.

Answering the call

As a startup, after building a product and finding market fit, the focus shifts to sustaining growth to survive and compete. At this stage, diversity may be a low priority. However, at Photoroom, we wanted to include diversity as a core pillar of our business plan to better serve our worldwide audience with an authentic and inclusive experience. And that’s what we set out to do as a top priority.

It is no secret that more diverse teams produce higher business outcomes in growth and productivity, so our recruitment team became hyper-focused on sourcing, engaging, and hiring women for our engineering team. This move not only addressed the Matthieu dilemma but also would help foster a culture that boosts innovation. 

We had ambitious goals to become a leading photo editing app in multiple countries but faced challenges finding diverse talents that matched our technical and cultural expectations. That's why, in March 2023, we've decided to pause all other sourcing to focus entirely on this problem. We also benefited from an audit by The Allyance, which helped us to improve our approach and introduce specialized tools to increase the representation of underrepresented groups. 

Soon, the volume of talented female candidates applying for our engineering roles was on the rise, but we also wanted to reduce biases in the process. This included reviews of our job ads to ensure gender-neutral language, identifying a diverse interview panel tailored to each role, and providing inclusive interview training for those taking part in the hiring process - steps integral to our diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DE&I) plan today.  

Pausing all sourcing efforts to prioritize leveling gender equality in the engineering departments was our first big step. We now have two times more women in R&D than Matthieus and have "My name is Matthieu" stickers as a jokey reminder of our progress!

Progress we’ve made 

In 2023, we have appointed a DE&I leader, transformed our hiring and HR processes, and are proud to share our first diversity report. Our year one results signal that making positive steps with diversity is possible even for a startup. 

Gender equality 

The number of women in the company is on par with the average series A European company, increasing by 32% since 2022.  Our women in R&D (engineering, product, product design) numbers are also in line with the benchmark for EU tech companies in series A (17% capacity). Additionally, we’re proud to share that 40% of our leadership team are women. 

To further support women at Photoroom, we launched a new support group designed to foster inclusion and belonging. We've also signed the French Parity Pact, joining a group of 700 startups championing gender equality in tech. Collectively, we’re lobbying for greater representation in governance, management, recruitment, and parenthood.

Support for parents 

There are other areas we're investing in to ensure a safer and more inclusive workplace. The median age of Photoroomers is 30, and we've seen more babies born. We're offering flexible working arrangements and an extra two weeks of parental leave for the second parent to rest and care for their family. We recognize that becoming a parent and returning to work can be a big adjustment, so we're partnering with a network of daycare centers to help find suitable childcare when the time comes, and we're creating a talk group for parents to better foster a sense of belonging and support when they return. 

Representation of nationalities

Hiring internationally is an excellent way to reach talent where they are! In 2023, we had 13 nationalities represented at Photoroom, working remotely, in a hybrid setup or in our Paris office. We expect this number to rise in line with our goal of building a highly skilled and diverse team.

Wealth sharing 

Photoroom provides stock options to 100% of the employees with a 10-year exercise window. Most companies have a 90-day exercise window. More precisely, when employees leave, they have 90 days to exercise (pay) stock options or surrender them to the company. At Photoroom, we believe that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may lack the funds, financial education, and/or family financial support to exercise in an enlightened way. We apply the maximum duration exercise window for 100% of our employees to support them. 

Diversity awareness

We regularly worked with a set of training providers to ensure our team had access to meaningful developmental opportunities linked to our strategy. We hosted important training on stress management, unconscious bias, LGBTQIA+ awareness and allyship. Inviting Photoroomers to participate has created a platform where they can share a wealth of insights, which significantly helps our approach.

Wellbeing

Our diversity goals are underpinned by wellbeing programs that support our team. In 2023, we doubled down on providing mental health resources, such as access to Moka - offering psychology and coaching sessions throughout the year. We also included team activities like climbing, CrossFit, yoga, and pilates. Finally, we introduced the holiday police concept. The entire Photoroom team has taken on this much-needed role to ensure our team members take their holidays. 

Our work continues

“Creating a truly gender diverse environment needs to be a proactive and continuous effort, and that’s definitely something I see in action every day at Photoroom. From investing in diversity reporting to hiring babysitters for company events, the team thinks of the big picture as well as small gestures that create a truly equal workplace.” Lisa-Marie Lander, senior iOS engineer. 

As we close our series B, we aim to be equal to or higher than the benchmark for women in European series B tech companies by the end of 2024. We're getting there.

Thanks to our global team of 50+ Photoroomers, the business has grown from $0 to 50M$ ARR in 3 years. Last year, our work was all about a deep focus on increasing the representation of women in R&D, but we know we have more work to do.  We have outlined clear goals for 2024 to ensure our DE&I strategy is achievable. 

Our goals for 2024:

  1. Ensure gender diversity metrics are equal or higher to the average european Tech Company in series B benchmarks while we almost double the team size.

  2. Continue to put into action respectful and fair management and HR policies.

How we’ll do it: 

  1. Ensure our hiring practices, from advertising and partnership to interviews and decisions, are inclusive and contribute to building diverse teams.

  2. Building internal processes that give equal opportunities to everyone and reduce biases from reward and recognition decisions.

Our work won't stop. Throughout 2024, we'll continue building a safe and inclusive workplace for our diverse Photoroom team, who are committed to developing an inclusive product that can be loved by people worldwide. 

To learn more about our current opportunities at Photoroom, visit our careers page.



Lyline Lim
Lyline LimHead of Impact and Sustainability at Photoroom

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