Empowering Women: This Tech Company Has Promoted More Women Than Men for 5 Years

Sponsored by Dropbox

Katherine Keenan

Photo courtesy of Dropbox.


“In the world of tech, there hasn’t always been an abundance of strong female voices,” says Katherine Keenan, talent brand program manager at Dropbox, a secure file-hosting service and smart workspace provider. “But at Dropbox, we make hiring and supporting women one of our top priorities.”

Perhaps that’s why, for the fifth consecutive year, women at Dropbox have been promoted at a higher rate than men. Representation for women amongst mid-level and above managers and individual contributors increased from 35% to 37%. Meanwhile, Dropbox representation of women is 40% company wide and leadership representation is at 41%.

In other words, the company is making moves to attract and retain top female talent.

What women have to say about working at Dropbox.

“I can’t tell you how valuable it’s been for me to see female leaders rise in our company,” says director of commercial legal, Caroline Bontia “The camaraderie, support and humor has helped me become more self-aware, to be bold in asking that tough question and to think more like a leader.”

Others agree that Dropbox has created a culture that’s distinctly different — for the better.

“In this culture, women are comfortable speaking up about their issues,” says legal analyst Jasmine Hsu. “It’s not an environment where issues are swept under a rug, but one where traditionally marginalized viewpoints are encouraged. It is a clear and intentional direction that the company as a whole has fostered.”

The company has even been taking the COVID-19 pandemic in stride, still empowering its employees from afar.

“Our shift to Virtual First has empowered me to design a workday that fits my life,” says Deepa  Iyer, learning and development senior design program manager. “Balancing work, home, (Zoom) school and personal health has become a lot easier knowing that I have the freedom to move away from a traditional work day and still be highly productive and creative. I believe that this shift helps everyone find a sane balance between work and personal life.”

As for Keenan, she says that Dropbox also doesn’t just help their users achieve their goals, they also practice what they preach internally — Dropbox endeavors to help people keep organized, stay focused and get synchronized with their teams by using products that reduce busywork. 

Keenan caught up with us to tell us more about why women like these love working at Dropbox.

What are Dropbox’s core values?
The Dropbox Values guide how we treat both each other and our users. They include:

  • Be worthy of trust. Try to do the right thing and practice radical candor, including caring personally and challenging directly.

  • They win, we win. Always start with the customer or user. Always put their experience first — ahead of business results and your own priorities.

  • Keep it simple. Cut those docs and emails in half!

  • Own it. See something that could be better? Help make it better!

  • Make work human. Err in the direction of kindness, and follow our DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) principles.

What differentiates Dropbox from others in its space and industry?
Dropbox is Virtual First, meaning remote work (outside of an office) is the primary experience for all of our employees globally. Because we know human connection is still critical in terms of building high-performing teams, we’re investing in opportunities to gather by offering physical spaces called Dropbox Studios. These are collaborative spaces designed for teamwork like strategy meetings, in-person learning experiences or team events, instead of individual workspaces that you go to every day.

In trying to adapt to this new reality, many companies have announced that they are going fully remote or offering employees a hybrid approach (i.e., employees choose whether or not to go into an office). But we aren’t convinced that either of these scenarios are the best way forward. Neither addresses the underlying limitations of remote working. Hybrid approaches may also perpetuate two different employee experiences that could result in barriers to inclusion and inequities with respect to performance or career trajectory. These big-picture problems are non-starters for us.

We want to empower our employees to have more control over how they work, so a key part of Virtual First is core collaboration hours — set time with overlap between time zones for working synchronously with colleagues and encouraging employees to design their own schedules beyond that. We want to prioritize impact and results instead of hours worked.

Describe 1-5 employee benefits that positively impact women who work at Dropbox.

  1. Dropboxers welcoming a new child are eligible to take 24 paid weeks of leave at birth or adoption, plus a Transition Week to help them transition back into their role.

  2. Dropbox will reimburse up to $10,000 in Adoption Expenses per child, for up to two finalized adoptions.

  3. A new ‘Perks Allowance’ began in 2021 as we transitioned to Virtual First. Rather than control in-office perks, employees are now able to be reimbursed for out-of-office perks that matter most to them — whether that’s wellness, childcare, housekeeping, baby food, after school activities or children's tutoring.

  4. Our Women@ ERG (Employee Resource Group) is an employee-led group focused on bringing together a diverse mix of people to help educate, inspire and encourage women to reflect on their own goals and positions as they strive to move higher in their careers.

What career development opportunities can women job seekers expect at Dropbox? How is career pathing approached?
The concept of career pathing can often seem overwhelming, so at Dropbox we’ve tried to establish clear guidelines, policies and helpful resources to make it a lot easier. In fact, we have an entire team dedicated to helping Dropboxers learn how they can take their careers to the next level, as well as a dedicated annual Career Week put on by the Learning & Organizational Development team to help employees identify and reflect on their unique capabilities and distinctive strengths and transform their mindsets around building a career.

In addition, in 2020, we furthered our long-term commitment to women by launching two new programs: Project Maia focuses on retaining women and URM talent, and Dropbox LEAD focuses on career development and advancement for women and URM early in their careers.

Project Maia resulted in a 96% retention rate for participants. Dropbox LEAD also resulted in 38% of the participants being promoted and 98% still being at Dropbox at the end of 2020.

What are some unique benefits or perks your company offers employees?

  1. Perks Allowance: an annual allowance that allows Dropboxers to be reimbursed for what perks really matters to them, whether that's wellness, caregiver support, productivity, ergonomics, learning, food services or something else.

  2. Unlimited PTO with an option to ‘Unplug’ (IT will block all incoming emails and messages until you are back).

  3. Four paid days of ‘VTO’ (Volunteer Time Off).

  4. Up to $2,000 in donation match to nonprofits.

What’s one thing Dropbox does — whether a formal policy or program, or more in terms of office culture — that you think is particularly unique or unexpected?
We believe that part of unleashing creative energy is disrupting the day-to-day routine. Our annual Hack Week is seven days where all constraints are off. All of our employees globally come together to shake it up and experiment with new ideas and ways of working. In addition to looking for solutions to challenges within Dropbox, employees are also encouraged to look outside Dropbox and utilize skill-based volunteering to help nonprofit organizations.


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