One Year Later: A Followup on Zencare's Commitment to Anti-Racism and Inclusive Therapy

A year ago, we published Zencare’s Commitment to Anti-Racism and Inclusive Therapy. When we published this statement, our intent was to communicate our company values; to clarify what it means for us to work towards diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism; and to hold ourselves accountable to building a more equitable product, service, and team.

Now, a year later, we’re reviewing our initiatives and setting new goals. As a company, we’ve been fortunate to grow significantly throughout a challenging year: we’ve expanded from five to twelve full-time team members; from a network of 1000 providers in 7 states to 2000 across 12; and from serving 25,000 clients to being on track to serve over 50,000 therapy seekers in 2021. We feel honored to have been able to support so many therapy seekers and therapists — and with that greater impact, also acknowledge the weight of responsibility towards our therapist members, client users, and internal team.

Over the past month, we analyzed how we’re doing against metrics of diversity among our provider community and clientele; reflected on initiatives we’ve taken across our services, product, and team; gathered feedback and ideas from our team; scheduled diversity and inclusion trainings and workshops; and are meeting as a team to discuss and develop a list of goals and new initiatives to prioritize.

To hold ourselves accountable, we’ve decided to publicly share some of these statistics and initiatives. We hope that some of these ideas from our team will be helpful for other companies as well, and are eager to continue learning and improving ourselves, too!

I felt I was heard and understood. I felt taken care of and valued. I already feel the support system that will be provided for me and I’m looking forward to the experience with someone who looks like me and can better understand me.

1. Definitions: What does Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism mean at Zencare?

To begin the discussion around diversity, inclusion, and antiracism, we first had to define the range of topics, identities, and backgrounds we are referring to when discussing these points.

At Zencare, discussions around diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism encompass the following:

We evaluate how we are being inclusive of and equitable to individuals of these diverse identities across our therapist network, clients, team members, and community at large.

Here are the areas of our business we consider when discussing these topics, and the goals we have for each:

2. Snapshot: Analysis of our provider and therapy seeker network

Diversity of the Zencare Provider Network

When we analyzed the data, we found that the racial/ethnic diversity of the Zencare provider network diversity is comparable to the psychology workforce, but much less diverse than the US population:

Our network of providers of color has grown at a faster pace than overall provider network growth.

As for gender diversity, the Zencare provider network is majority female at nearly 80%; another 20% identify as male, and 1% identify as trans or non-binary (note the total exceeds 100% as providers may select more than one gender identity).

10% of our provider network identifies as LGBTQ, compared to 5% of the US population (though we believe this data to be underrepresented).

Note: Unfortunately, the data we had for comparison purposes were outdated, but we used them to have a benchmark for our analysis. Sources we used include the 2015 APA survey for demographic data about the psychology workforce, the 2019 Census Bureau for the US population demographic data (and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s data visualization), and a 2017 Gallup poll for the LGBTQ national data.

Diversity of the Zencare Clientele

Equally important to the provider demographics are client demographics. Are we serving a diverse clientele base in terms of identity?

It’s difficult to determine a precise response to this question, since we don’t track racial or ethnic data in order to protect client confidentiality. Additionally, third-party data analytics platforms like Google Analytics are limited to demographic data like age and gender (the latter currently in binary terms).

Instead, as a proxy, we turned to the number of referrals through Zencare to therapists of color, since many individuals seek therapists who share similar identities and cultural experiences. In a typical month, though providers of color account for about 12% of all Zencare providers, providers of color receive about 20% of client requests, which speaks to the success of marketing efforts to reach communities of color, as well as the overwhelming need for the services of providers of color. Moreover, we found that in April 2021, we’d referred triple the number of clients to providers of color as we did in May 2020. This increase is likely due to both the greater number of clinicians of color as well as our search engine optimization efforts at elevating content and search pages related to POC mental health and searches for providers of color.

I cannot express how grateful I am to have found my therapist. I was connected with a woman of color who, I feel, completely understands my needs on a cultural level. It is amazing to heal under a therapist that is sensitive to my experiences as a woman of color. I have only met with her a handful of times, but I feel seen and heard in ways I never have with other therapists. I feel like I’m finally the path (pun intended) to being the best version of myself.

3. Review: What we’ve done

We hold ourselves to continual reflection of areas of growth, and strive to improve accordingly. Here are some highlights across our services, product, and team:



Team - Hiring

Team - Internal

4. Goals & Initiatives

As a company, our goals and initiative are not static; we absorb input from our colleagues and community to help shape our vision and actions. To start, we sent the above data to our internal team and asked each individual to dedicate time to come up with feedback, ideas, and thoughts on what they’d want to see from the company.

At the time of writing this piece, we’re actively working to synthesize the ideas our team submitted, and develop a shortlist of ideas and initiatives that are possible for us as an organization. Doing so entails considering the level of impact, prioritization, and feasibility of each in terms of team time, capacity, ease of execution, and budget. We’re also planning an all-hands in honor of Juneteenth to share, digest, and discuss next steps.

Down the line, to continue fostering opportunities for organization-wide growth and reflection, we have the following workshops and trainings scheduled:

Below, we’ve compiled the ideas our team has submitted so far; we can’t do all of these at once, but wanted to list them as inspiration for what other companies can do, and what you’ll see from us moving forward!

We are determined to continue moving forward, and to both hold ourselves accountable and keep a pulse on the mental health industry so that we may identify areas where we can fulfill unmet needs. We hope the steps we take now have a positive effect on our team, provider members, and therapy seekers we have the honor to serve each day.

5. Ideas from our team