Pinterest is testing ways to fix diversity

pinterest hiring goals

Can Pinterest hack tech's diversity problem? It's certainly trying to.

The company has already been lauded for its commitment to diversity, but now it's getting even more proactive.

On Thursday, Pinterest, which has over 600 employees, announced its 2016 diversity goals. The company -- which has received $1.3 billion in funding and is valued at $11 billion -- hopes that by sharing this information publicly, it'll make its progress easier to benchmark.

In 2013, Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou called on tech companies to reveal their diversity numbers in a much-buzzed-about Medium post.

Her effort pre-dates the more formal reports that some big firms have since started publishing. In 2014, Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) released formal diversity reports about the internal makeup of their workforces. As second annual reports roll out, the numbers show that white men still dominate.

Even Pinterest has only seen "modest progress over the past year," according to a blog post by co-founder Evan Sharp.

The company's updated diversity stats show that while women make up 42% of its workforce, employees are still predominately white (49%) and Asian (43%). Its tech, engineering, leadership teams are largely made up of men. One exception is non-tech jobs, where women account for 66% of employees.

"We think one reason it's been so hard to get numbers to change is that companies haven't stated specific goals," wrote Sharp.

That inspired Sharp to share Pinterest's goals and the company's plans for achieving them.

Pinterest wants 30% of its new engineering hires to be women and 8% to be from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds. It also wants 12% of new hires for non-engineering roles to be from underrepresented backgrounds. Pinterest will require managers to interview at least one woman and one person from an underrepresented background when hiring for leadership positions.

To get there, Sharp said the company plans to recruit from a wider variety of universities and launch an "early identification intern program" for freshman and sophomore students that come from underrepresented backgrounds. It will require employees to participate in unconscious bias training, and will support a training and mentorship program for black software engineers and students.

It has also launched a formalized effort with diversity research and consulting firm Paradigm called Inclusion Labs.

Paradigm, headed by Joelle Emerson, has been working with Pinterest for seven months on unconscious bias training, data collection, diversity recruitment and company culture. Inclusion Labs will be the continuation of these efforts -- with the hopes of using Pinterest as a test bed to understand what's working and what's not and share that with others.

"We're interested in designing and testing ideas that have potential to impact the tech industry at large," wrote Emerson in a Medium post on Thursday. "Pinterest shares our passion for impact, and has expressed to us their belief that by cultivating a more diverse and inclusive tech community, every company within that community will be better off."

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