Twitter Updates Progress on Diversity, Inclusion

Twitter’s update on its diversity efforts followed the same theme as counterparts Facebook and Pinterest: modest progress, along with the acknowledgement that more work needs to be done.

Twitter’s update on its diversity efforts followed the same theme as counterparts Facebook and Pinterest: modest progress, along with the acknowledgement that more work needs to be done.

Vice president of inclusion and diversity Jeffrey Siminoff said in a blog post that the social network met or exceeded its goals for 2016, and it shared modest increases of those goals for 2017.

Whites made up 57 percent of Twitter’s total work force in 2016, with that figure climbing to 74 percent of the company’s leadership. Twitter’s technical employees were 52 percent white, while whites accounted for 62 percent of non-technical employees.

Twitter met its goals of boosting underrepresented minorities in its overall work force to 11 percent, to 6 percent in leadership and to 9 percent for technical employees, up from 10 percent, zero and 7 percent, respectively in 2015.

The company’s goals for underrepresented minorities in 2017 are upticks to 13 percent of its overall work force, 8 percent of its leadership and 11 percent of its technical stable.

The social network exceeded its goals for women in 2016 in two of three categories, reaching 37 percent of its overall work force, 30 percent of leadership and 15 percent of technical workers, up from 34 percent, 22 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

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For 2017, Twitter is eyeing upward moves for women to 38 percent of its total work force, 31 percent of its leadership and 17 percent of its technical work force.

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Siminoff highlighted the addition of key women and minorities to its board of directors and executive ranks, as well as to roles leading Twitter’s efforts in individual countries.

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Highlights from his blog post follow:

Our leadership team and board grew, becoming more representative of the people and communities that use our service. And our CEO, Jack Dorsey, was named the Thurgood Marshall College Fund CEO of the Year.

Reaching and moving beyond our goals also depends on an investment in our people and their growth. So we have piloted new programs focused on the development, visibility and sponsorship of women and underrepresented minorities in different areas. We recognize the power of the leadership stories of our women, and annually name several as Makers. And in 2016, all of our open country-head positions were filled by women.

We put ourselves where the talent is, and we showed up in force at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the National Society of Black Engineers’ annual convention and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Conference. We launched a partnership with Code2040, focused on minority software engineering students. We updated our career site with a new inclusion and diversity section. To mitigate against unconscious bias and optimize for inclusion, we made strategic changes to our technical interview process and implemented software-based tools to both increase our candidate pool and improve our job descriptions. We also built out a dedicated university diversity recruiting function to reach more students, creating tailored plans for each region, as well as Twitter-specific onsite programs like #FirstFlight for potential university recruits. Our goal is to create an even stronger sense of belonging in our interview process.

We don’t presume to have all the answers. So, we seek to learn from organizations that reach different communities in their day-to-day work or who invest in the next generation of talent. We support Adcolor (focused on diversity in creative fields), Tech Women, Lesbians Who Tech, AfroTech, the National Center for Women & Information Technology and Girls Who Code, to name a few.

For 2016, we sought to push ourselves in a distinguishing way and set measurable goals, and we’re happy to share that we’ve met or surpassed many of these. With our commitment, we have seen progress in hiring and career development, culture, policies and, as a result, increases in overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities.

For underrepresented minorities, we are also focused on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2016, for the first time, we gave all U.S. new hires the opportunity to self-identify as LGBTQ. While this data collection is new and therefore limited, we wanted those who chose to identify to be counted. Of employees answering, 10 percent identified as LGBTQ. As more employees respond in 2017, we expect to have a more complete picture.

We know that the effects of our actions–many of which were new for 2016–cannot be immediate. We are focused on sustained efforts that will help us draw more diverse talent, create great experiences and careers and foster a culture of belonging that fully lives up to the spirit of community on Twitter itself. And we will continue to come together with and learn from our industry peers in the spirit of doing better not just for ourselves, but for the industry as a greater whole.

Our commitment to inclusion and diversity is fundamental to who we are and crucial to the effectiveness of our service. One-and-done measurements don’t apply here, so we’re again setting representation goals for 2017. Also, we’re going further by adding a new goal, for underrepresented minorities in non-tech roles. Whatever the goal area, we will continue to be broadly focused on inclusion, prioritizing intersectionality and specific underrepresented groups and acting on different opportunities for our different business functions.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Twitter’s diversity and inclusion update?

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