Pinterest reveals diversity goals for 2016; announces new project dubbed …

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Exclusive: Pinterest launches innovative diversity project.

Pinterest is the latest company to share it’s annual workforce diversity stats and outlined its goals for 2016 as well. On Thursday, Pinterest made public its ambitious plan to boost diversity, which seeks to hire a greater percentage of women and underrepresented minorities for engineering and leadership roles at the company.The San Francisco company is setting ambitious goals to hire more women and minorities — and it’s making those goals public to hold itself accountable. Companies in Silicon Valley and beyond are taking note, including Pinterest, which took inspiration from the National Football League for its latest diversity initiatives.

Pinterest chief creative officer Evan Sharp, one of Fast Company’s most creative people, outlined the company’s specific goals for the next year in a blog post: Implement a Rooney Rule-type requirement where at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female candidate is interviewed for every open leadership position. According to the Pinterest Blog, said Evan Sharp, co-founder of Pinterest stated that, “By sharing these goals publicly, we’re holding ourselves accountable to make meaningful changes to how we approach diversity at Pinterest.” He added, “We’ll also be sharing what’s working and what isn’t as we go, so hopefully other companies can learn along with us.” At the moment, around 42 percent of the company’s workforce is women. The social media site has been transparent with their numbers and made “modest progress” over the past year, increasing the share of female employees to 40% from 42%.

Over time, we hope to help build an industry that is truly diverse, and by extension more inclusive, creative and effective.” “Pinterest is putting a huge stake in the ground by setting specific, measurable goals, targets and a 2016 timetable to achieve its diversity and inclusion goals,” Jackson said. “We have said: ‘If you don’t measure it, you don’t mean it.’ Clearly, Pinterest means it.” Tracy Chou, who had experienced the stark lack of diversity firsthand while working for Facebook, Google and question-and-answer service Quora, uploaded a spreadsheet to the code-sharing platform Github and challenged tech companies to make public the number of female engineers in their ranks. Her goal: To gather data that would shed light on just how profound a problem the technology industry was wrestling with and to encourage the industry to make a stronger commitment to address it. “The actual numbers I’ve seen and experienced in the industry are far lower than anybody is willing to admit,” she wrote at the time in a piece on Medium. “This means nobody is having honest conversations about the issue.” Since then, major technology companies from Google to Apple to Facebook have stepped forward, reporting diversity statistics on an annual basis. To achieve those results, Pinterest plans to expand recruiting to new universities, and start an intern program specifically for “freshman and sophomore students from under-represented backgrounds.” In addition, Pinterest is launching a new initiative dubbed ‘Inclusion Labs’ in partnership with a strategy firm called Paradigm. The Rooney Rule requires all NFL teams to interview minority candidates as part of the hiring process for head coaches and senior football operation jobs. This project will focus on developing key strategies around diversity and will also find ways to share those findings with the tech community at large.

The rule was implemented in 2003 following the firings of head coaches Tony Dungy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dennis Green of the Minnesota Vikings, despite both coaches having impressive winning records. They will offer a workshop on unconscious bias, host events like Blacks in Tech and Future Female Founders, change hiring practices that may put some candidates at a disadvantage, and continue to collect better data.

Around that same time, a study came out that revealed that black head coaches, despite winning a higher percentage of games, were less likely to be hired (and more likely fired) than their white counterparts. While several tech giants, such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, have publicly shared their diversity numbers—largely driven after Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou began collecting numbers about women in tech in 2013—not all that much has changed. But Pinterest thinks that with specific goals and programs it can finally move the needle. “Despite new initiatives tech companies are putting in to place, they have showed virtually no progress or movement,” Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., said in a statement. “Pinterest’s approach stands in stark contrast, combining aspiration with concrete measurable intention, and is one that other companies would do well to emulate.” The company is also bringing on outside strategy firm Paradigm to establish Inclusion Labs at Pinterest to uncover innovative new ways to improve diversity.

I think it will drive us internally to work much harder because have made a public statement.” Pinterest said it wants to increase hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30% women, full-time engineers to 8% underrepresented minorities and non-engineering roles to 12% underrepresented minorities. More from WSJ.D: And make sure to visit WSJ.D for all of our news, personal tech coverage, analysis and more, and add our XML feed to your favorite reader.

With help from Paradigm, Pinterest has begun to collect more “granular” data beyond overall demographic numbers, for example breaking out engineering roles from technical roles, so Pinterest can measure and learn from the data and communicate it clearly, said Joelle Emerson, CEO and founder of Paradigm.

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