Why #Diversity Is Difficult | Re/code

An account by Leslie Miley on her challenges in increasing diversity at Twitter:

But then, in August 2015, Jack Dorsey returned to Twitter, and during a company meeting, responded to my question about committing Twitter to a measurable diversity goal. He publicly committed to diversity in front of every Twitter employee in attendance, and a few short weeks later, Twitter publishes this. And in a profoundly emotional moment, Jack Dorsey played the video seen below at the next company meeting:

This epitomizes the best of Twitter, and I left the meeting inspired and ready to drive the bus of diversity in engineering.

After several weeks of meetings and guidance acceptance from executive staff, I pitched a job proposal to focus on increasing diversity in engineering to the senior vice president of engineering. In the course of the meeting, he suggested that we begin tracking the ethnicity of potential candidates in the pipeline to understand better where candidates are falling out. I agreed that this is an important metric to track, and conveyed that the current data we had indicated that the problem is not just the pipeline. While ethnic and gender data early in the pipeline is incomplete, we do know that in 2013, 4.5 percent of computer science graduates from the top 25 schools were African-American, and 6.5 percent were Hispanic/Latino.

As we continued the discussion, he suggested that I create a tool to analyze candidates last names to classify their ethnicity. His rationale was to track candidates through the pipeline to understand where they were falling out. He made the argument that the last name “Nguyen,” for example, has an extremely high likelihood of being Vietnamese. As an engineer, I understand this suggestion, and why it may seem logical. However, classifying ethnicities by name is problematic, as evidenced by my name (Leslie Miley).


With my departure, Twitter no longer has any managers, directors, or VPs of color in engineering or product management. From this position, Twitter may find it difficult to make the changes to culture and product.


What I also found disconcerting is this otherwise highly sophisticated thinker could posit that an issue this complex could be addressed by name analysis. (For reference, here is a tool that attempts to do that. With Jewish or African/African Americans, this classifier scored 0 percent on identifying these groups in Twitter engineering). While not intentional, his idea underscored the unconscious tendency to ignore the complex forces of history, colonization, slavery and identity.

I left that meeting wondering how I could, in good conscience, continue to work in an organization where the senior vice president of engineering could see himself as a technology visionary and be so unaware of this blind spot in his understanding of diversity. Leadership keeps citing “the pipeline,” when the data does not support it. They continue to churn out ethnic and racial minorities and women, but still claim a commitment to diversity.

This is the last meeting of any consequence I had at Twitter. My time at Twitter is over. And I end it very conflicted. Twitter as a platform has empowered underserved and underrepresented people. It has fomented social movements and brought to the forefront of American media and politics issues that affect me personally and professionally.

Source: Why Diversity Is Difficult | Re/code

Twitter Sets Measurable Hiring Goals for Women and Minorities | Re/code

Setting public goals and reporting on them provides incentives for managers:

A month ago, Twitter’s interim CEO Jack Dorsey told employees that diversity would soon be a company goal. Twitter was fresh off an embarrassing fraternity-themed party that only underscored Silicon Valley’s reputation as a place where women and minorities are often overlooked.

Today, Dorsey and Twitter followed through on that promise, and they’ve got the numbers to back it up.

Twitter reported its diversity metrics Friday, falling in line with the rest of Silicon Valley by reporting a predominantly white and male workforce. Two-thirds of Twitter’s global employee base is male, and men also claim 87 percent of the company’s tech jobs; ninety percent of its U.S. employees are either white or Asian.

Unlike most other tech companies, however, which often provide lip service on how they plan to improve those ratios, Twitter is setting measurable goals for each of these categories as a way to hold itself accountable. For example, it wants to grow its percentage of women in tech roles from 13 percent to 16 percent in the next year. It also wants to grow women in leadership roles from 22 percent to 25 percent.

They’re small increments, sure, but putting tangible numbers out there also puts pressure on the company to deliver. (You can guarantee that if it misses these marks, the media will point it out.) Janet Van Huysse, Twitter’s VP of diversity and inclusion, wrote in a post Friday that the company will start recruiting more heavily at historically black colleges and universities and Latino-serving institutions this fall. It is also working to ensure its job descriptions are written to “appeal to a broad range of applicants.”

Kudos to Twitter for putting a stake in the sand. Perhaps other companies will soon do the same. Now the pressure’s on to actually change things at Twitter.

Perhaps DND and the RCMP could take a similarly public position, starting by posting their employment equity reports on their website, and commit to a more active approach to addressing their poor results for women and visible minorities.

Source: Twitter Sets Measurable Hiring Goals for Women and Minorities | Re/code

How do tech’s biggest companies compare on diversity? | The Verge

How_do_tech’s_biggest_companies_compare_on_diversity____The_VergeSome good comparative data. Chart above highlights Asian Americans given other minorities are relatively small (Amazon rates higher given the number of people who ship product):

Key takeaways [for overall employment]:

  • Amazon sets the bar for female employment with 37 percent of its US workforce. Microsoft lags the pack with just 24 percent (sampled average is 29 percent female) — far below the 47 percent of the US workforce that’s female.
  • Apple employs a higher percentage of people claiming hispanic / Latino origin than its peers in the US. At 12 percent of its US workforce, it’s well ahead of Twitter’s 2 percent (sampled average is 8 percent Hispanic or Latino).
  • Amazon employs far more people that identify as Black or African American than the other companies sampled. At 15 percent, it is well ahead of Facebook’s 1 percent and the 2 percent employed by Google and Twitter (sampled average is 7 percent).
  • Amazon (13 percent) and Apple (16 percent) lag the others in the percentage of employees who identify as Asian (sampled average is 23 percent).
  • The sampled average for people that identify as Asian is 23 percent of the workforce even though they compromise just 4.7 percent of the US population.

And what about the leadership composition of some of the world’s most powerful and profitable companies?

Key takeaways [for leadership]:

  • Facebook (23 percent) and Twitter (22 percent) are the best at promoting women into leadership roles among the companies sampled. Microsoft is the worst at 13 percent (sampled average is 18 percent).
  • While women represent an average of 29 percent of all employees in the US tech firms sampled, that number quickly falls to 18 percent of leadership positions (Women make up 47 percent of the US workforce).
  • Amazon’s leadership is the whitest at 90 percent followed by Apple at 87 percent, far above Twitter’s 68 percent (sampled average is 79 percent white).
  • Amazon (75 percent) and Apple (72 percent) promote the greatest percentage of white males into leadership positions (sampled average is 65 percent).

As dire as these charts appear, the tech industry is advancing toward the goal of greater inclusiveness and transparency. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Intel have all released customized reports showing mid-2015 progress globally, beyond the 2014 US data provided in the EEO-1. Progress is slow, but it is happening.

How do tech’s biggest companies compare on diversity? | The Verge.

‘Disrupting’ Tech’s Diversity Problem With A Code Camp For Girls Of Color

More on efforts to increase diversity in hi-tech, highlighting some more grassroots efforts:

In addition to brainstorming and prototyping app ideas, the campers take field trips to leading tech companies.

“I like to point out to the girls, ‘Look around, do you see people who look like you here?’ ” says Lake Raymond, the summer camp and after-school coordinator for Black Girls CODE.

On a recent tour of Google, she says, many of the girls were taken aback. “They seemed a little shocked to actually be in a place where you don’t really see anyone who looks like you.”

What data companies have released show that the tech giants driving the American economy remain white and male-dominated. Outside of management, software developers and hardware engineers are often among the highest-paid jobs in the industry. Estimates are that fewer than 13 percent of computer engineers in the Valley are female. Far fewer are African-American women, it’s estimated, but few companies have released hard data breaking down the numbers by race and gender.

Twitter has. Reports show black or African-American women make up just 0.5 perfect of the microblogging site’s workforce. CEOs in the Valley say they’re working hard to boost diversity. But Apple recently reported only modest progress in improving the diversity of its overall workforce.

Other organizations working on the issue include the nonprofit group Hack The Hood, which is trying to widen the gateway to new tech jobs for minority and disadvantaged youth. There’s also the nonprofit Code2040, an internship program that aims to bring black and Latino engineering students into Silicon Valley. And in California’s Salinas Valley farm region, a program is targeting Latinos — a traditionally underrepresented group in tech — for computer science degrees.

Black Girls CODE’s Summer of Code included project-based camps in the Bay Area as well as Washington, New York City and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. The group says camps offer a place where “girls of color can learn computer science and coding principles in the company of other girls like themselves and with mentorship from women they can see themselves becoming.” About half of the girls participating received a scholarship to attend.

For some girls of color the path to a tech career remains riddled with obstacles. In schools, as we’ve reported, girls of color in America are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls and are often are subject to harsher and more frequent discipline than their white peers.

‘Disrupting’ Tech’s Diversity Problem With A Code Camp For Girls Of Color : NPR Ed : NPR.