Pandora Women

Pandora Media, Inc.

Industry: Media and technology

Principle 6: Civic and community engagement


Pandora is an automated music recommendation and streaming service with $1.38 billion in revenue. Pandora Women (PW) blossomed into a company-wide official employee resource group (ERG) in 2014, after a limited founding back in 2011. It now spans across Pandora’s four main hubs, Oakland, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and is active in smaller offices like Minneapolis, Detroit, and Dallas. P-Dub, as it is fondly called, aims to activate a visible culture of community, empowerment, and diverse leadership within the company. Its mission is to expand gender equity in hiring, compensation, and leadership by amplifying women and partnering with allies at Pandora. 

At an individual level, PW reinforces Pandora’s learning culture by supporting growth, career advancement, community engagement, retention, and Pandora’s overarching position as a thought leader in the music/tech/media industry. PW’s programming is critical to moving Pandora towards fulfilling three high-level goals:

  1. Increase the percentage of US employees of color from 35% to 45% by 2020, starting with the main hubs of Oakland, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta,
  2. Commit to gender, racial, and ethnic promotion parity by 2020, and
  3. Reflect the diversity of its audience, musicians, and local communities across its business in its brand collateral, music partnerships, and live events.

"The Pandora Women community is critically important in our recruiting and retention efforts. If we can give ourselves an edge in recruiting highly talented and sought-after women, then we win. If we can make women feel comfortable, safe and supported here, that is even better." 
Steve Bene
General Counsel & Co-Executive Sponsor of Pandora Women

How does this model practice work?

PW’s programming is guided by company demographics, which are announced every year to provide transparency around the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Pandora is one of the few tech and media companies with a nearly equal gender make up for its overall workforce. While there is room to grow, Pandora also has 24% women in technical roles (compared to 15% industry average) and close to 40% women in leadership, which is significantly higher than some of its peers in the industry. Last year, Pandora also publicly released data on its population of women of color for the first time. The data provides Pandora with the roadmap it needs to set goals for recruiting, employee experience, and leadership development. 

In addition, Pandora looks at employee engagement scores on an annual basis and puts out pulse surveys that help to gauge how the company is doing in many areas, including diversity and inclusion. For the last few years, Pandora’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as how employees feel connected at work, has emerged as one of the highest scoring items from the survey.

"Every day I am inspired and thankful to be a part of an organization of strong women coming together to influence gender equity in hiring, compensation, and leadership, amplifying women, and partnering with our allies at Pandora." 
Alyssa Whitcomb
Senior Manager, Operations Music Makers Group & Pandora Women Communities Liaison

Pandora Women started as a grassroots movement with a small following. Constantly adapting and discovering new ways to utilize workforce data gave the community the attention it needed for more senior level buy-in. Human Resources was then able to adopt this practice into the Diversity and Inclusion strategy, ensuring the PW community would receive a yearly budget and coordination assistance for such events as Pandora Women’s Leadership Month. This annual program includes a wide variety of activities such as #LadyBoss leadership panels, performances tied to fireside chats, and workshops. PW also plans multiple volunteer events to support women in its communities, partnering with organizations like Wardrobe for Opportunity, Dress for Success, Courageous Women Association, and Girls Inc. As events were broadcast across the company, other offices wanted to get involved. They then created their own steering committees to facilitate programming.

How can I adopt this model practice in my workplace?

Workforce data around hiring, promotions, and attrition can provide your women’s group with strong indicators of successes and areas for improvement. The work of creating a gender equitable workplace is never finished, so having a strong foundation, structure, and formal company support are key for your group to thrive. Maintaining each of these pillars will ensure a scalable and dynamic program in your workplace.

View Ann Lehman's profile on LinkedIn