Thursday, July 13, 2017

What We Learned from Improving Diversity Rates at Pinterest - HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

by Candice Morgan
Originally published: July 11, 2017

In today’s workplace, diversity is more than just a buzzword; it’s a way to build a stronger business. At Pinterest, we understand that diverse teams yield smarter, more innovative results, which are essential in the competitive, dynamic tech industry. With over 175 million active users worldwide, Pinterest thrives on providing users with relevant ideas: what to wear, what to cook, how to furnish your home, and where to travel. Pinterest’s fastest growing users are outside of the United States, and for current and future users, it’s important that the people building our product make it relevant to people of different ethnic, social, physical, and geographic backgrounds.

But businesses have long struggled to increase diversity across all levels. For nearly a decade, I worked at Catalyst, a nonprofit focused on helping women advance in the workplace, consulting with progressive companies who began investing in diversity initiatives in the ‘90s. The tech industry joined the diversity movement to diversify their workforces far later, after being scrutinized for its stark lack of gender and ethnic diversity. What brought me to Pinterest was a bold move I hadn’t seen previously: in 2015, the company decided to set public, challenging goals to increase hiring rates of women and employees from underrepresented ethnic groups.

For example, while women typically make up roughly 16% of software engineers in the U.S. (and almost no companies report engineering data specifically), Pinterest’s goal in 2016 was to hire women engineers at nearly twice this rate. The goal was based on a legal analysis of the current workforce, industry graduate rates, and co-founders Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp’s desire to push far beyond the status quo after two years of flat data.