Pinterest Updated Its Progress on Its 2017 Diversity Efforts

The social network met most of its goals and implemented a Rooney Rule

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said, 'We have a lot of work to do' PeopleImages/iStock
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Pinterest recently issued its annual company progress report on diversity, reporting increases in women and underrepresented ethnic backgrounds, saying that it met most of the goals it outlined in last year’s report.

The social network said in an email to Adweek that the number of women in technical roles is currently 29 percent of the total, up from 21 percent in 2015.

People from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds now represent 9 percent of the company’s total workforce, up from 3 percent in 2015.

Pinterest also implemented a requirement based on the National Football League’s Rooney Rule in order to ensure that at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female is interviewed whenever a leadership position is ready to be filled, and the company said the policy was successfully expanded into senior management roles, highlighting the additions of general counsel Christine Flores and head of U.S. partnerships Meredith Guerriero.

The Rooney Rule is named after the late Dan Rooney, former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee, and it was put in place to ensure that at least one minority candidate is interviewed when teams are looking to hire head coaches or senior management.

Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani addressed the interview process during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., in October.

As reported by Susanna Schrobsdorff of Fortune, Saujani said that while it may be human nature to hire people who are similar to you, “Women are not going into [tech] jobs because of culture. Something is happening in these interviews. So, I encourage everyone to review the questions being asked.”

Pinterest shared its goals for 2017 and whether it reached them:

  • The company set out to increase hiring rates for full-time female engineers to 25 percent, and it did so, reaching 26 percent.
  • Pinterest aimed to increase hiring rates for engineers from underrepresented backgrounds to 8 percent and fell short, finishing at 5 percent.
  • As for hiring people from underrepresented backgrounds for non-engineering roles, the social network aimed for 12 percent and beat that goal by reaching 15 percent.

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann discussed the company’s diversity update in a blog post, pointing out that Pinterest launched an apprenticeship program for self-taught coders, and a number of participants have become full-time engineers.

Silbermann also shared the social network’s strategies for improving diversity in 2017:

  • We looked at what our really great managers were doing to build inclusive teams and created a playbook based on those principles so that leaders at all levels could put those practices into action.
  • We added a checkpoint during performance reviews so managers could pause and identify any common biases they may have been making.
  • We made unconscious bias training a priority for employees and managers so they can be aware of any hidden preferences they may hold.

Finally, Silbermann discussed two Pinterest-supported diversity initiatives, /dev/color and Paradigm, both of which have spaces at the company’s headquarters.

Former Pinterest engineer Makinde Adeagbo founded /dev/color, which is aimed at furthering the careers of African-American engineers, and he said in the blog post, “I’m really excited to see the progress Pinterest has made on diversifying its team. Its focus, at all levels of the company, is what it takes to really make progress on these efforts and continue to find novel solutions to build the best company.”

And Paradigm develops strategies for companies seeking to improve diversity and inclusion, backed by data and research.

Laura Weidman Powers, co-Founder and CEO of Code2040, a community of Black and Latinx technologists and their allies, pointed out in a blog post that more engineering jobs for minorities would mark a huge step toward closing the wealth gap compared with whites, writing, “Companies are increasingly being driven and enabled by technology, and tech jobs are good jobs. In fact, the median pay of a software engineer ($105,280) is more than the median household income of a black family and Latinx family combined ($77,970). Further, one-half of all top paying jobs require tech skills. With these trends, we must ensure that our communities have access to these opportunities for wealth building and influence.”

Silbermann said in his blog post, “We know this will be a long journey and that we have a lot of work to do, but we are confident that it will make our business and our industry better.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.