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Pinterest sets goals for hiring more women and minorities

Pinterest / Flickr

Silicon Valley companies have been releasing data on their diversity for a couple of years, but those reports have largely served to identify a problem — not to improve it. That's why Pinterest has decided to publicly outline a series of goals it's setting for improving diversity next year. The targets include having women make up at least 30 percent of the full-time engineers it hires, having people from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds make up at least 8 percent of those hires, and having people from those backgrounds make up at least 12 percent of all other hires. Pinterest is also mandating that its teams interview at least one woman and one person from an underrepresented ethnic background when trying to fill a leadership role.

Small targets, appreciable gains

Those may sound like low targets, but they'd represent appreciable gains over Pinterest's current hiring rates. Women only account for 21 percent of Pinterest's most recent engineering hires, making next year's hiring goal close to a 50 percent increase to its average. Pinterest's goal for increasing its hiring rate for engineers from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds is much larger, jumping up to 8 percent from its current standing at just 1 percent. People from underrepresented backgrounds make up 7 percent of Pinterest's current hiring overall, meaning its goal of bringing that up to 12 percent would also make for a noticeable increase. The rates are all based on Pinterest's past six months of hiring; the goals it's setting are for 2016.

Pinterest says that it'll be taking a few different approaches to reach these goals. They start with expanding the range of universities that Pinterest recruits from, as well as finding college freshmen and sophomores from underrepresented backgrounds who could become interns. It plans to start a training and mentorship program for black engineers and students as well. Pinterest also plans to have its employees go through training to prevent unconscious bias. Finally, it's setting up a what it calls the "Inclusion Labs," where Pinterest will experiment with ways to improve diversity.

"By sharing these goals publicly, we’re holding ourselves accountable to make meaningful changes to how we approach diversity at Pinterest," Evan Sharp, one of Pinterest's co-founders, writes on the company blog. Sharp says that Pinterest made "modest progress" over the last year, with women now making up 42 percent of the company, up from 40 percent. He also says that Pinterest is now hiring more women as engineering interns and for engineering positions after graduation. These are all small steps, but the fact that Pinterest is setting goals and letting the public know about them is an important one. The hope is that other companies will follow by not just presenting their numbers, but by explaining what they're doing about them and what's working.

Pinterest's full diversity data, current through hires starting in September, is reprinted below:

Pinterest_Demographics_scale_0.0.jpg

Update July 30th, 3:35PM ET: This story has been updated with Pinterest's current hiring rates. It previously referred to estimates based on Pinterest's overall makeup.