Pinterest Shares Plan for a More Diverse Pinterest

Pinterest logoPinterest has decided to go on record with their hiring goals for 2016. In addition, they are sharing their plan for reaching those goals. Pinterest is doing this because they are aware that there is not a lot of diversity in the tech industry. This is their way of increasing diversity.

In 2013, Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou kicked off the “Where are the numbers?” initiative. It revealed that there wasn’t much diversity in the people that companies were hiring in the tech industry. Since then, not much progress has been made.

Pinterest is making an effort to increase diversity by revealing their hiring goals for 2016. This is unprecedented. Doing so makes it easier for people to hold Pinterest accountable for reaching those goals. It also makes it clear that they are consciously intending to make a more diverse Pinterest.

Their hiring goals are:
* Increase hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30% female.

* Increase hiring rates for full-time engineers to 8% underrepresented ethnic backgrounds

* Increase hiring rates for non-engineering roles to 12% underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

* 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.

The Rooney Rule was created by Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the National Football League’s diversity committee. The rule requires National Football League teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior operation jobs.

Here’s how Pinterest plans to reach its hiring goals:
* Expand the set of universities we recruit from, and launch an early identification intern program for freshman and sophomore students from underrepresented backgrounds.

* Work with outside strategy firm Paradigm to set up Inclusion Labs at Pinterest, where we’ll experiment with new ways to improve diversity.

* Have every employee participate in training to prevent unconscious bias.

* Support the creation of a training and mentorship program to maximize the impact of Black software engineers and students, led by one of our engineers.

Diversity in Silicon Valley

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c2/San_Jose%2C_California%2C_USA.jpg/275px-San_Jose%2C_California%2C_USA.jpgDoes Silicon Valley have a diversity problem. That question is raging today on Twitter and Google Plus after the screening of the show Black in America 4 produced for CNN by Soledad O’Brien which will air in a couple of weeks. One of the participants  in the show was Michel Arrington, who said “I don’t know a single black entrepreneur”. He then went on to say he thought that Silicon Valley was a meritocracy and that the best rise to the top no matter their race, sex or creed. This is when the fireworks started. Many called him out on the idea that Silicon valley is colored blind and a pure meritocracy. It is true that the customer doesn’t care who is behind a piece of technology as long as it works, however the business side of Silicon Valley is a different story.

Silicon Valley is no different then the rest of society. The problem is not out-and-out racism, the problem is one of familiarity. As Hank Williams an African-American entrepreneur pointed out people tend to gravitate toward those who are like them. Investors and most mentors in Silicon Valley are white and male and they tend to naturally gravitate toward young, white male entrepreneurs. In other words the investors finds those who fit a pattern that they are looking for. It often happens without any thought or intention behind it. Often groups like NewMe Accelerator which focus on helping black tech entrepreneurs, have trouble even getting mentors or investors to take a look at them. Hank Williams said Techcrunch barely looked at NewMe Accelerator at the last tech meet up. That when they finally did  the Techcrunch report was mostly about the group itself and not about the individual tech companies that were working within it.

If this discussion highlights one thing it is that if you are white and male you need to tread lightly when the conversation about diversity comes up. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk about it, but expect a reaction especially if you make sweeping statements like Michael Arrington did.