The social media company has met most of its diversity goals for 2016

By Michal Lev-Ram
January 19, 2017

Twitter’s been under a lot of scrutiny lately, from questions about the long-term viability of its business model to disapproval of President-elect Donald Trump’s use of the social media tool as a mouthpiece for rants against companies and individuals. But here’s one bit of Twitter news that has nothing to do with either issue: according to a blog post published by the company Thursday morning, the San Francisco-based startup has made some (small) steps towards hiring a more diverse workforce. What’s more, it has met most of the diversity goals it set for itself for 2016—modest but nevertheless impactful percentage increases in hiring more women and underrepresented minorities, a category that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as well as different ethnicities.

“For 2016, we sought to push ourselves in a distinguishing way and set measurable goals, and we’re happy to share that we’ve met or surpassed many of these,” Jeffrey Siminoff, the company’s VP of inclusion and diversity, said in the blog post. “With our commitment we have seen progress in hiring and career development, culture, policies and, as a result, increases in overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities.”

The overall percentage of women in Twitter’s employee base grew from 34% to 37% last year (the company’s goal had been to hit 35%). If you drill down into the numbers, Twitter also surpassed its goal of increasing the representation of women on the leadership side, from 22% in 2015 to 30% in 2016. When it comes to technical workers, however, the numbers aren’t as pretty: the percentage of women rose from a meager 13% in 2015 to a still-meager 15% in 2016 (the company had hoped to hit 16%).

As for underrepresented minorities, overall numbers grew from 10% to 11% in 2016. On the technical side, representation grew from 7% to 9% and on the leadership team, from 0% (yes, 0%) to 6%. Those numbers met all of Twitter’s goals for the year.

To get there, Siminoff says Twitter instituted several new hiring practices and partnered with organizations like CODE2040, focused on finding minority software engineering students and pairing them with tech companies. Over the last year, the company also participated in conferences hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and built out a dedicated university recruiting effort to find and hire diverse students. In order to “mitigate against unconscious bias,” Siminoff says Twitter has augmented its hiring process for employees, mainly by implementing software-based tools like Textio, which uses data analytics to suggest job descriptions that don’t discriminate and appeal to a broader set of candidates.

Of course, Twitter—and pretty much every other Silicon Valley company—has a long way to go. But baby steps are better than no steps. And holding oneself accountable for those steps is even better. For a look at Twitter’s 2017 diversity goals, look here.

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