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Diversity Challenges in Silicon Valley

A recent article by Vauhini Vara in Fast Company looked at the problem of workforce diversity in Silicon Valley. While the article mostly examines how Pinterest seeks a successful strategy to hire more women and minorities, a similar struggle is underway at a number of high-tech companies. In many cases, the executives understand that there is a problem. What’s more difficult is finding a solution. At Pinterest, the company assumed mentorships and college recruiting efforts aimed at underserved populations would be enough. But though those efforts got a more diverse group applying for jobs and getting interviews, in the end, the hiring managers too often wound up favoring the same white and Asian-American males from MIT and Stanford they always did. As Vara puts it, Pinterest’s diversity campaign “remained siloed in its human resources department.”

And so Pinterest is now trying a new approach:

1. Selling all employees on the value of diversity, getting it out of HR committee meetings and making it a company-wide mission and making everyone accountable to clear hiring goals

2. Using rigorous in-house testing of its diversity initiatives, using the same tools and strategies the company uses on its own product development

3. Developing a stronger, more pro-active plan for attending a famous conference of female computer scientists to meet and hire more women

The graph below shows the gender and ethnic breakdown of employees at the biggest high-tech companies. (Click image to enlarge.)

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