Editor's note: This article was originally published in the Etsy News blog on September 25, 2014.

Today, we're proud to announce that Etsy has pledged $210,000 in Etsy Hacker Grants for Hacker School in the coming year. Hacker School, an immersive programming retreat, wants to create a graduating class that reflects the diversity of the country and times we live in, and by doing so, create a more diverse pool of applicants for technical jobs at Etsy and other companies. With our help, they will now offer needs-based living expense grants to people who identify as women, black, non-white Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander. Improving the diversity of highly qualified applicants, as many have noted, is one way to reduce the barriers to building diverse employee populations.

It is important to us that this initiative is embedded in the larger conversation about diversity within our company. Etsy's vision is for all identities and expressions to be welcomed, represented and rewarded in our 600+ person workforce. We want the people who are building our platform to be as diverse as the people who make up our global community. We recognize that having a diverse workforce creates a welcoming environment that encourages creativity and collaboration, ultimately improving not just our processes, but also our product.

If you've been following the news this summer, you've likely seen that some of the largest tech companies have published their “diversity stats,” pledging to do better in hiring, promoting and creating opportunities for minority populations inside and outside the company. We are sharing our diversity statistics below, and like all companies that have done the same, we have room for improvement.

We measure a lot of things at Etsy, but we believe that metrics alone don't capture a company's efforts to create an inclusive culture that organically supports diversity of all kinds. Headcount stats tend to overlook how accepting and supportive the workplace is, whether people of all types feel valued and included, and the degree to which diverse candidates can succeed and thrive. Instead of a focus on increasing a percentage point, Etsy is focused on building a company culture that gives everyone a voice. We continually examine our culture, challenge employee perceptions, and engage in leadership exercises and education. One of the most powerful steps we've taken is championing a frank dialogue with employees about how we can all take responsibility for improvements.

Internally, we're rolling out our third annual Happiness Survey (part of our Progress Report), which indexes the health of our company. It differs from most corporate engagement surveys because it examines the whole ecosystem of relationships within the company, including individual well-being and connections between individuals, not just between the worker and company. In 2013, Etsy employees' “Personal Well-Being” score was 84%, 15% higher than the international average, according to our partners at the University of Pennsylvania. Personal well-being depends on positive emotions, engagement in day-to-day tasks, and the support one gets from interoffice relationships. We want to create culture and operations that optimize for well-being, and acknowledge that Etsy benefits when every employee brings his or her whole self to work, including a full range of experiences and emotions.

Other initiatives include sponsoring programs like Code2040 and Girl Develop It, hosting students from CodeNow, inviting external speakers to educate employees on feminism, unconscious bias and diversity, and partnering with National Center for Women & Information Technology (Etsy joined NCWIT's Workforce Alliance earlier this year).

We know we've only scratched the surface, and we're committed to making continued progress in this area. We will continue to create and support initiatives that improve open communication, foster healthy teamwork and collaboration, and deepen values alignment among employees. Outside our walls, we want to help build a more diverse tech community alongside our peers.

We take our mission to build a more fulfilling and lasting world seriously. We support over a million creative entrepreneurs around the world and provide them new opportunities to build businesses and earn a living doing what they love. We know that we cannot do it alone; it takes a multitude of voices and backgrounds to build a future that is bright, accessible, and understood by all.

Read more about how to apply for Hacker School grants here.

Source: Etsy