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Twitter touts modest gains in diversity, sets new goals for 2017

The embattled social media company had just lost its only black engineering manager — one of just 49 black people employed among the company’s nearly 3,000-person U.S. team — because he felt unsupported and alone. Though Twitter did improve its diversity, the strides were small and the goals it had set at the outset of 2016 trailed some of those set by other tech companies. Pinterest, the online scrapbooking service that long led the charge toward a more inclusive and diverse workforce among tech firms, set more aggressive hiring goals than Twitter did. “Just having good intentions around diversity hadn’t been enough, so we thought setting goals would help us focus across the company,” wrote Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann in a blog post. Setting measurable goals allows companies to zero in on diversity benchmarks rather than attempting to tackle a complex problem with no immediate solution, experts said. Twitter, which pledged to increase the number of women in leadership positions from 22 to 25 percent, saw a jump to 30 percent after the company filed five vacant country-head positions with women. Overall, Twitter’s gender gap closed slightly as the company exceeded its goal of one percentage point. Twitter also went from having no underrepresented minorities — blacks, Latinos and Native Americans — in leadership positions after Leslie Miley, the engineering manager, departed, to having racial and ethnic minorities make up 6 percent of the company’s leadership. Women make up about 30 percent of jobs in the tech industry, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but about 37 percent at Twitter. Unconscious bias, or deeply held biases that may influence unequal treatment of workers who are not white and male, exists across all levels of a company, Emerson said, but can be particularly powerful when it comes to hiring. Paradigm worked to train Twitter’s global workforce of 3,860 in what unconscious bias is, and how to be aware of it and mitigate its effect. “What we were able to find is our workshop not only raised awareness — which is the baseline goal of any training — but it also motivated people to do things differently,” she said.

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