Pinterest Just Unveiled an Ambitious Plan to Tackle Silicon Valley’s Diversity Problem

A Pinterest employee poses for a photo during a media event in San Francisco on April 24, 2014
A Pinterest employee poses for a photo during a media event in San Francisco on April 24, 2014.

Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

This post originally appeared on Inc.

Pinterest, the online scrapbooking site, has set some aggressive new hiring goals where diversity and inclusion are concerned. Co-founder and CEO Evan Sharp outlined Pinterest’s initiative to include more women and minorities by 2016, in a blog post published Thursday. He shared details on goals to increase the company’s full-time engineering hiring rate to 30 percent female and 8 percent minorities.

A “Rooney Rule”-type requirement will be implemented, where at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female candidate is interviewed for any executive position. To reach those goals, Pinterest is partnering with consulting startup Paradigm.  

The announcement is a first for any major Silicon Valley tech company, which—until last year, and only at the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s urging—had remained mum on its (dismal) diversity statistics. At large, the tech industry in 2014 was 64 percent white and 72 percent male. LinkedIn was the most racially diverse tech company, with 34 percent white workers, and eBay was the most gender diverse, with 76 percent male workers.

Jackson, for his part, is pleased with what Pinterest is doing. “Pinterest is putting a huge stake in the ground by setting specific, measurable goals, targets and a 2016 timetable to achieve its diversity and inclusion goals,” he said in a press release. 

Still, it’s clear that the company is far from gender or ethnic parity. While it employs more women compared with most tech companies (42 percent), men still represent the majority gender when it comes to other workforce sectors. Male employees make up 79 percent of tech jobs, 81 percent of engineering, and 84 percent of leadership positions. At large, black Americans are just one percent of the workforce, with Hispanics accounting for two percent. That’s a pretty disappointing snapshot.

Pinterest’s new partnership will allow a closer look into more “granular” data, said Paradigm’s CEO and founder, Joelle Emerson, in an interview with USA Today. In addition to launching a mentorship program for black software engineers, Pinterest will also create “Inclusion Labs,” where workers will be encouraged to experiment with different diversity initiatives.

It’s no question that tech has a diversity problem, but Pinterest’s bold plan will certainly motivate the industry to up its ante.