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How URBN’s inclusive environment fosters technical innovation

How URBN’s inclusive environment fosters technical innovation

How URBN's inclusive work environment drives technical innovation
The tech industry is well-known for being a boys’ club. However, it doesn’t have a stellar record of inclusion.

Per a 2020 surveyBy AccentureAnd Girls Who Code, only 21% believe its easy for women to thrive in tech — and 50% of women in tech leave the industry by the time they are 35.

According to the report, creating inclusive work environments is the best way to reverse declining gender parity in tech. And here’s how to do it. URBNsA large and cozy waterfront campus located in Philadelphia’s iconic Navy Yard is what four women on the URBNs technology team have discovered.

URBN is a reflection a different experience. Emily KaplanDirector of advanced analysis and digital strategy. Our tech team is composed of a majority of women in product management and UX, digital strategy, engineering, data science, and engineering.

URBN is the parent of all global retail brands Anthropologie, Free People, Urban OutfittersAnd Nuuly. Although the company opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in 1970 it wasn’t until the late 90s that its growing brand portfolio launched a digital presence. Today, the ecommerce company is as much a tech company than a clothing retailer, thanks to its 400-strong tech team.

Continue reading to find out how URBN has created an inclusive environment where women can thrive in technology, as our interviewees agreed.

Egality starting at the top

Women make up half the URBN executive team. Four of the eight positions in senior leadership are yours. Employees quickly learn that there are no boundaries to the opportunities and impact they can make at URBN based their gender.

Kaplan stated that URBN is a company where women not only are welcome but also lead the charge.

She interviewed for her current job and spoke to representatives from each URBN brand. She stated that half of the interviewees were women at director level or higher.

It was almost more pleasant to see inclusion intrinsically built into than them saying, Here’s the womens group! She said. It was much more powerful to see it organically than to receive a PR message in a package.

There are no career limits

Yen DuongURBN has been around for just seven years. She credits a lot of mentorship and a culture based on knowledge-sharing for her recent growth as a staff engineer from aspiring mid-level engineer.

Duong stated that my tech lead encouraged me to take on larger projects early on. Now, I am able to work independently and guide other engineers.

Duong said that URBN is a place that encourages you to follow your interests, even if that means starting in a role and moving into another.

An excellent example of this is Tracey StroberShe is now the global director for retail solutions and customer service at URBN.

Strober said that I’ve been very fortunate in my career with URBN. They have allowed me to take chances, try new things and be successful. I’ve been able to write my own job description, and have the support and encouragement of supervisors who trust me and allow me to take on new roles.

Strober made it clear that her gender did not affect her career growth in any way.

Strober stated that she never felt singled out for being a woman. There is a great mix of people in leadership and development roles on each team.

URBN’s Philadelphia HQ. (Courtesy photo)

Support and flexibility for everyone

Strober’s inclusive feeling is the result of a lot of planning and strategy. URBN offers equal support and development opportunities for all its employees. This includes employee resource groups and group Slack channels, which are developed and managed by employees. Flexible work hours and a regular roster. Events in the internal communityIt is designed for sharing knowledge, developing new skill, building connections, and fostering wellbeing.

Being a mom has been my greatest challenge over the past five years, she said. Jenn LukasURBN Technology’s web engineering manager. She has been with the company for seven year. My web team and URBN Technology as a whole are great support for working parents. You may have doctors appointments or a child whos screaming during a Zoom meeting and Ive never been made to feel bad about doing what I need to do — and thats huge.

Lukas is a manager who understands that everyone has different things going on in their lives. She praises URBN because it allows each team to have autonomy and support the work styles of its members. This creates a more personalized, organic team dynamic.

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Lukas explained that everyone works differently. It is important to allow everyone to do their best work and to make sure that they feel heard and appreciated for their contributions.

Ownership of work

In Another reportAccenture researchers discovered that innovation is more common in companies with inclusive cultures. This is because workers feel valued and are more motivated to invent.

Duong is a good example of this. It’s not just the new features, projects and systems that Duong finds exciting, but also the ability to make your mark on them, that drives innovation at URBN.

Duong stated that there aren’t many places where you can write code from scratch. The work is yours. It is a place where people care deeply about it.

Duong was a leader in the data migration of a database with 20 million users to a new database, while production was still running. This did not cause any problems for users who were shopping. She stated that she is proud to have done that.

URBN encourages technologists year after year to continuously evaluate and improve their tech stack in order to remain competitive and at the forefront of ecommerce technologies.

Duong said that we make decisions about the future. If someone has a good reason for introducing a new technology to our stack, they are never told no. We are empowered to incorporate the investigation of new technology into our work schedule.

Kaplan believes URBN offers a stimulating environment that encourages all people to have the spirit and attitude to take the punches.

Kaplan stated that the tech department is extremely fast-paced and entrepreneurial. While we might have a plan for the year, the digital landscape is constantly changing so roles can change at any moment. It’s a great place to work if you are passionate about technology and want to be at the forefront of innovation.

One that allows you to thrive.

Check out URBN’s current openings -30-

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