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Lyft's New Diversity Report Shows a Surprising Source of Progress

Startups tend to see rapid growth as a way to increase revenue and marketshare—but it’s also an opportunity to make progress on diversity.

According to it’s latest diversity and inclusion report, released Friday, Lyft doubled in size over the past year. At the same time, the ride-hailing company increased its share of women in technical roles by three percentage points to 21% and brought representation of black and Hispanic employees from 13% to 19%.

“You run the risk, when you’re growing this fast, that you bias toward speed versus quality,” Nilka Thomas, Lyft’s new vice president of talent and inclusion, said. “Looking at the results for this year and seeing that, by and large, we are holding steady and in some cases getting some really impressive results, that felt really good.”

Thomas joined Lyft six months ago after working for 13 years at Google, where she focused largely on diversity and inclusion initiatives. She’s spearheaded Lyft’s efforts to meet hiring goals, track promotion rates by race and gender, and analyze pass-through rates that monitor how quickly employees of different demographics leave the company.

The diversity and inclusion report, only Lyft’s second, showed that 21% of the ride-hailing company’s technical staff were women, compared to 18% last year. However, the makeup of Lyft’s tech leadership roles—which include director-, VP-, and C-suite-level employees—dropped from 13% to 11.5% in the same time frame. Women’s representation across the 4,000-person company also fell from 42% to 40%.

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