Pinterest Stresses Importance of Diversity After 2016 Election


At Pinterest’s weekly staff meeting on the Friday after the presidential election, co-founders Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp and diversity chief Candice Morgan got up and reiterated the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The high-tech industry is appealing to a global marketplace, where women and minorities increasingly wield economic power. Yet concern had spread among women and people of color alienated by Donald Trump’s campaign that tech companies would shrink from diversity efforts in the changing political climate, reversing the small gains Silicon Valley has achieved so far.

Pinterest executives say changing the demographics of the industry has never been more important. “Evan and I have always believed that building diverse teams is essential to building great products. Diverse teams come with a broader set of experiences, which means they often have new perspectives and ideas,” Silbermann said.

The San Francisco start-up has been at the forefront of making a public commitment to hiring more women and underrepresented minorities since one of its former engineers issued a call to action in 2013. Tracy Chou uploaded a spreadsheet to the code-sharing platform Github and challenged tech companies to make public the number of female engineers in their ranks.

Leading technology companies from Google to Facebook stepped forward, reporting diversity statistics on an annual basis, starting in 2014. The statistics showed huge, growing populations have been largely left out of the tech economy’s rapid wealth and job gains. In sharp contrast with tech’s varied users, the industry is dominated by white and Asian men.

Underrepresented minorities comprise a distinct minority among Silicon Valley tech companies, including at Pinterest. They make up 6% of employees, versus the 22% of employees in non-tech firms in the area, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Pinterest, which describes itself as “the world’s catalog of ideas,” is a digital pinboard that private investors have valued at $11 billion. Its executives say they must build a diverse workforce to thrive. So they responded in July 2015 by setting ambitious goals to hire more women and minorities and, in a rare move, it shared those goals — a vow to remake the company’s demographics in the public eye.

On Friday, the company offered a status report on its progress. Its overall demographics have not budged much. Some goals were met, a key one was not.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Jessica Guynn

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