In October 2013, Pinterest became one of the first tech companies to share hard data on the demographic breakdown of its employees. In a Medium post, the engineer Tracy Chou revealed that 11 of Pinterest’s 89 engineers (12 percent) were women, before pressing other companies to publicize the same information about their workforces. “As an engineer and someone who’s had ‘data-driven design’ browbeaten into me by Silicon Valley, I can’t imagine trying to solve a problem where the real metrics, the ones we’re setting our goals against, are obfuscated,” Chou wrote.
The following year, Google, Facebook, and a host of other tech companies followed suit, releasing numbers that exposed the stark lack of gender and racial diversity within their organizations. Last year, referencing Chou’s 2013 push for more data, Pinterest published a blog post outlining specific diversity targets for 2016, including upping the proportion of women on its full-time engineering staff to 30 percent, and the proportion of minority engineers to 8 percent. And last week, the company announced that it was hiring its first head of diversity, Candice Morgan, to help it reach those goals.
Amidst the ongoing scrutiny on disparities within tech, plenty of other companies, including Apple and Twitter, have created roles similar to Morgan’s. The growing popularity of these leadership positions seems to be a sign that the tech industry, broadly speaking, is taking a more structured approach to combating its ongoing problems with sexism and racial discrimination. (Or, more cynically, it at least wants to appear that way.)