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At Indiegogo, workforce diversity that outpaces big tech firms

Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of Indiegogo, an Internet company that helps raise funds for small businesses, talks during a session at LeWeb Paris 2012 in Saint-Denis, near Paris on December 5, 2012.Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of Indiegogo, an Internet company that helps raise funds for small businesses, talks during a session at LeWeb Paris 2012 in Saint-Denis, near Paris on December 5, 2012.
Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of Indiegogo, at the LeWeb Paris 2012 conference.Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

Indiegogo, the crowdfunding website where entrepreneurs can raise cash, says women make up 45% of its overall staff, a much larger figure than those revealed in recent months by large tech firms.

In a report today, the company, which has offices in San Francisco and New York, announced that 33% of its technology employees and 43% of its senior leaders are women. Of a total workforce of more than 100 employees, 8% is Hispanic while 87% is either white or Asian.

Indiegogo is just one of several tech companies, albeit a very small one, that have become transparent in recent months about their employee diversity data. Facebook (about 7,200 employees), Twitter (about 3,300), Apple (50,250), and Google (52,000) have each disclosed that women make up about 30% of their overall staffs. At about 33,500, eBay’s work force leads big tech firms when it comes to female representation: 42% are women. Indiegogo’s gender-balanced workforce is more akin to Pinterest, which said recently women make up 40& of its staff of more than 300.

“The Indiegogo team is exemplary,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a diversity expert who has advocated for more diversity in corporate leadership. “They are showing what is possible. The big tech firms are making excuses saying that they can’t find the right talent. Indiegogo proves that it is not that the women aren’t there, it is that companies have to think differently and recruit differently.”

The crowdfunding platform is also working to level the playing field for female entrepreneurs looking to raise funds. Less than 15% of venture-backed companies have a female founder, but Indiegogo says 47% of campaigns that reach their funding target are run by women. A study published last week, authored by researchers at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania, offered further proof that woman may have the upper hand when it comes to crowdfunding. On Kickstarter, a similar platform to Indiegogo, roughly two-thirds of women-led tech firms reached their fundraising goals compared with 30 percent of tech companies with male founders.

“For a company like Indiegogo—whose goals are to support and amplify all entrepreneurial, creative and community-related endeavors—we don’t just need diversity to innovate and grow, we are absolutely dependent on it to achieve our long-term mission,” wrote Danae Ringelmann, an Indiegogo co-founder, in a blog post accompanying the figures.

Wadhwa also noted that Indiegogo, which has only a fraction of the employees at Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), and the like, may be at an advantage when it comes to recruiting high-quality female talent. Calling Silicon Valley an “old boys club,” Wadhwa said women want to work with companies that are female-friendly.

“Given how diverse Indiegogo is, even if a woman was being offered more money at one of the other companies, she still might prefer to work for Indiegogo,” Wadhwa said.

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