Can Pinterest’s New Initiative Really Tackle the Diversity Issue That Plagues the Tech Industry?

The lack of diversity in the tech industry has come front and center as Silicon Valley and new start-ups gain more notoriety. This elephant in the room becomes more noticeable as small companies grow and their pool of applicants remain the same.

The social media site, Pinterest, wants to change this by addressing their lack of diversity. The company’s leadership team invited the start-up, Paradigm, to launch the Inclusion Labs Initiative. The company will host an array of workshops and programs that will accumulate diverse workers and their humongous staff for a better working environment.



Paradigm CEO Joelle Emerson and Pinterest founder and CEO Ben Silbermann have come together to tackle this problem head on. Emerson’s company will conduct research and gather the appropriate data to see what needs to be addressed.

According to Martin Blanc of, “The abolishment of the compulsory ‘white boarding’ interview process shows how Pinterest has received constructive criticism from the start-up firm which highlighted the issues that most women may face during interview processes in which they ‘underperform specifically’.”

For the past several months, the two companies have been working together. One of the new approaches Pinterest has tried was a Blacks in Tech event in the last week of July. Back in June, the company also hosted a Future Female Founders event in an attempt to grow the company’s network.

“Paradigm is training Pinterest managers on how to write unbiased performance reviews, and we are training promotion committee members to identify potential areas of bias in promotion decisions,” says Emerson.

The Inclusion Labs Initiative will launch this fall.


Reddit CEO and 500 Startups Founder Awkwardly Discuss Diversity in Tech

Last Friday, interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao and 500 Startups founder Dave McClure were featured panelists at the PreMoney conference for venture capitalists to talk about diversity.

The irony is that the room was packed with mostly white males from various tech companies. This is to be expected when there is a need to discuss diversity in the first place.

Pao revealed some alarming figures about her own company. Currently, Reddit is made up of only 14 percent women engineers.

McClure asked Pao, “How many African-American or Black people work at Reddit? [And] How many Hispanic American or Hispanic people work at Reddit?”

Pao answered uncomfortably, saying that the company does not ask people to self-identify.

McClure continues and asks, “How do you know if this is a stat or a KPI (key performance indicator) that I should be considering? Am I more racist for asking people or for not asking people?”


Pao then responds. “I don’t know. When I look around I want to see diversity on the team.”

“I’m pretty sure there are no Black people in Silicon Valley,” McClure adds.

The whole exchange was uncomfortable for the mostly white audience and the two CEOs. This is proof that even if the tech industry wants to incorporate more diversity, how do they, how can they speak about it, and how will they keep track of their attempts at diversifying if they don’t ask people to self-identify?

“We haven’t counted. We have one African-American engineer. We just hired a general counsel, Melissa Tidwell, who is an African-American woman. I think we have three other African-American people working,” Pao said.

Pao and McClure may be part of the problem by making sure they don’t hurt anyone. The two didn’t address the issue in a bold and straightforward way. Pao has dealt with sexism in the industry firsthand, so she knows the reality of the lack of women in tech.

This panel is proof that Silicon Valley has a long way to go.

Source: CNN Money/YouTube

Etsy Teams Up With DigitalUndivided in Campaign to Diversify Technology

New York City-based companies Etsy and DigitalUndivided are focused on diversifying technology by supporting women and people of color in the industry.

The two have partnered up to create a space where the topic of race and gender can be discussed. The reality is that this industry is in need of attracting different types of people because everyone uses technology.

In an interview with the New York Business Journal, Etsy’s recruiting manager Jason Greenhouse said “that if tech companies really want to understand their user bases and build for the long term in large scale, they need to think that way internally. They need to bring people from various backgrounds and all different walks of life, give them a seat at the table and have them lend their ideas to what’s being built.”

June will be a big month for the two companies. Starting June 1, DigitalUndivided will launch a $50,000 Kickstarter for diversity research.

“We’ve built a pipeline of people who can immediately enter the market and lead companies,” says Kathryn Finney, founder of DigitalUndivided.

According to Michael del Castillo for New York Business Journal, the company will research the “racial makeup of a 60,000-person ‘startup genome’ to create a comprehensive gender and racial map of the global start-up community.”

On June 25 and July 23, there will be a second and third race and gender talk at the Etsy company headquarters in New York City.  The times for these events are 6 to 8 p.m., and each costs $20.

Lack of Investor Support for Females, Minorities Continues to Stifle Diversity in Tech Industry

Black owned start ups

A recent study revealed that female and ethnic-minority entrepreneurs have more of a struggle garnering support from investors when compared to their white, male counterparts.

The study from Pepperdine University’s Graziado School of Business and Management has exposed yet another way females and minorities are placed at a severe disadvantage in the tech industry.

“We find consistent evidence that minority (non-Caucasian), women and foreign business owners’ establishments are significantly less likely to receive PE (private equity) or VC (venture capital) financing,” the study said, according to a blog post by the Wall Street Journal.

The study analyzed fundraising data from the years 1995 to 2009 and found that female-owned business are 2.6 percent less likely to raise private equity funding than white males.

Female-owned businesses were also found to be 18.7 percent less likely to successfully raise a venture round than companies run by white males.

The numbers were even more troubling for minority-owned business.

Minority-owned businesses were 21.7 percent less likely to raise private equity funding and 22.2 percent less likely to successfully raise a venture round than their white male counterparts.

While the study focused on fundraising on all types of businesses, these statistics are particularly troublesome for minorities and females in the tech industry.

The tech industry heavily relies on private equity to launch innovative start-ups and sustain the growth of smaller companies.

With this industry already struggling with a severe lack of diversity, the inability of minorities and females to garner the same financial backing as white males means the industry’s 2 percent problem could persist.

Earlier this year, tech giants like Facebook and Google released their diversity reports, which revealed that only about 2 percent of their employees were Black.

Out of that 2 percent, very few of the employees had leadership positions with the company.

The authors of the report believe the lack of financial backing is not necessarily a result of overt racism but can still be connected to racial bias.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the venture capital industry is still dominated by white men.

A survey conducted by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Dow Jones VentureSource back in 2011 found that only 11 percent of investors were women while nearly 90 percent were men.

Researchers suggest that these white men are more comfortable investing in what is familiar to them – other businesses run by white men.

The NVCA claims it is taking steps towards changing this demographic and boosting diversity in investment firms.

Meanwhile, other leaders in the Black community are taking matters into their own hands.

Former NAACP president Ben Jealous stepped down as the head of the nation’s largest civil rights organization and is now working on the West Coast as a venture capitalist.

Back in March, Jealous explained that becoming a venture capitalist would allow him to continue making more opportunities for Blacks and Latinos.

“My life’s mission has been leveling the playing field and closing gaps in opportunity and success,” he told the Associated Press. “I’m excited about trying a different approach.”