Twitter to hire more women next year

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Twitter Wants to Be (Slightly) More Diverse by 2016.

Micro-blogging site Twitter made its diversity goals for 2016 public, announcing that it will hire more women at various levels, to bridge the gender gap. SAN FRANCISCO – The percentage of underrepresented minority workers at Twitter fell 2 percentage points from 2014 to 2015 and the company appears to have no African-American or Hispanic leadership at all in the United States in 2015. In a blog post, Janet Van Huysse, Twitter’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, wrote that it is important to define what these changes will yield a year from now. “We want the makeup of our company to reflect the vast range of people who use Twitter. A House of Cards spoof comparing Netflix’s discriminatory policies to, well, the ruthless manipulation and politics of series protagonist Frank Underwood. Huysse commented. “While we are already been working towards internal diversity goals at different levels of the company, I’m very pleased to report that we are now setting company-wide diversity goals and we’re sharing them publicly,” she added. “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,” she added.

But, like Epler, they can’t shake the modesty of the numbers. “I bet you they’re benchmarking to two things,” said Silicon Valley angel investor and chief executive of photo editing service PicMonkey.com, Jonathan Sposato. “They’re probably benchmarking to their peers, like Facebook and Google, and they’re benchmarking to existing numbers,” he said. Exactly how many staffers Twitter would need to hire to reach its goal isn’t known because the company has not released its U.S. staffing numbers for 2015.

Pinterest, a visual discovery tool company, had recently stated that it also want to increase its female engineering workforce from the current 21 percent to 30 percent. More than a quarter of black Internet users in the U.S. are on Twitter and “Black Twitter” — the congregation of black users on the service — is considered one of the driving forces behind the company’s popularity and success. “This annual type of reporting is a very useful sort of exercise for employers,” said Murray Simpson, a quantitative analyst with PeopleFluent, a Waltham, Mass.-based company that does human resources management and technology. For UltraViolet, this is discriminatory. “People are taking notice that Netflix is expecting praise for extending parental leave to its higher-paid employees, yet it doesn’t extend those benefits to the hourly employees who need it most,” Nita Chaudhary, cofounder of UltraViolet, said in a statement. “It’s important that Netflix set an example for the rest of employers and companies nationwide… by giving all employees equal benefits.” Netflix, on the other hand, defends its policies. “Across Netflix, we compare salary and benefits to those of employees at businesses performing similar work,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “Those comparisons show we provide all of our employees with comparable or better pay and benefits than at other companies.” After Netflix announced its new policy, other tech companies, like Microsoft and Adobe, chimed in with their own expanded parental leave offerings. But at firms such as Twitter, which has 4,100employees, or Facebook, which has around 10,000 employees (32% female, 9% underrepresented ethnic groups in the U.S.), or even Google, which has more than 50,000 employees (30% women, 9% underrepresented ethnic groups) it could take hundreds of hires before an incremental percentage change appears. While critics of Twitter’s and Pinterest’s hiring goals may be quick to draw a comparison with various affirmative action initiatives that have in the past resulted in backlash and accusations of reverse discrimination, some diversity experts say it’s not a fair comparison. “Right now, people are hired because of their gender and race due to unconscious biases, so we have to do corrections when it comes to that,” Epler said. “I’m much less worried about the backlash.

For so long it’s been biased in the wrong direction.” Sposato also believes this is less about favoring people of a certain gender or ethnic background, and more about correcting a course that has long favored white and Asian men. “I’m absolutely confused when people say there’s a pipeline problem or a lack of qualified [female] candidates, because what they really mean is they feel a qualified candidate looks, walks and talks like a man,” Sposato said. “That’s the problem.” Since disclosing their diversity numbers last year, companies such as Apple and Facebook have reported a modest increase in the diversity of their workforce. And while the various diversity programs and initiatives are commendable, the next step is going to be changing company cultures and values so once people from underrepresented groups are hired, they stay.

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