After years of vague proclamations about "commitments to diversity," Silicon Valley companies are finally starting to give us some real numbers.
Today Twitter followed Pinterest in issuing firm goals for the number of women and minorities that the company would like to hire.
In 2016, the company said it plans to achieve the following:
- Increase women overall to 35%
- Increase women in tech roles to 16%
- Increase women in leadership roles to 25%
- Increase underrepresented minorities overall to 11% in the U.S.
- Increase underrepresented minorities in tech roles to 9% in the U.S.
- Increase underrepresented minorities in leadership roles to 6% in the U.S.
Those numbers represent a pretty sizeable step up from where Twitter is now:
But those numbers are also not so wildly far off from the progress Twitter as already made in the past year, after first releasing its own internal employee diversity data last July. Since then, for example, the percentage of women globally in tech positions has climbed three percent, from 10 percent to 13 percent. By that measure, Twitter's goal for 2016 to simply grow by three additional percent seems modest.
Here are Twitter's numbers from last year:
Until recently, tech companies have publicly shied away from setting concrete diversity goals, an idea that runs contrary to Silicon Valley's mythical mantra of meritocracy, which places faith in the system to always allow the best candidate for a job to rise to the top, regardless of race or gender.
While some companies, like Google and Facebook, have introduced training to curb bias in the workplace, much of the tech world still clings to the idea that women and minorities are underrepresented in tech simply because there are not enough of them to go around. (This idea, by the way, is easily debunked: top universities, for example, graduate black and Hispanic computer science students at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them.)
Over the past year, Twitter has launched a number of initiatives intended to help, like partnering with diversity-focused organizations such as the Level Playing Field Institute and startups like Textio that help weed out bias in places like job descriptions that might scare diverse candidates away. Twitter says it plans to expand its recruiting efforts beyond the Ivy League towers to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
"If our aim is to build a company we can really be proud of — one that’s more inclusive and diverse — we need to make sure it’s a great place for both new and current employees to work and to grow," Twitter VP of diversity Janet Van Huysse said in a blog post announcing the goals.
Twitter's diversity efforts haven't been perfect. Just last month, while in the midst of a gender discrimination lawsuit, a group of employees at the company hosted a frat-themed happy hour.
Twitter was quick to apologize for their employees' poor taste. Still, it's a sign that when it comes to diversity in Silicon Valley, there's still a long way to go.