Does the Head of Diversity Have to Be a Certain Race?

Pinterest hired Candice Morgan as their first-ever head of diversity. This announcement was made shortly after Twitter hired Jeffrey Siminoff, a gay, white man to be their head of diversity, replacing a white woman. Although he previously led diversity efforts at Apple, where diversity is less than ideal and was the defendant for Morgan Stanley when they were in the middle of a racial discrimination lawsuit, people were upset that he was not black.

Back to Morgcandice-morgan-head-of-diversity-e1452030834818an. She has over ten years of experience building diverse work environments through her work at Catalyst, so it is safe to say that Pinterest did not hire Morgan because of the color of her skin. Is she more justified for the diversity role because of her skin color?

I don’t think that there is an answer of who has to fill a diversity role. Some have argued that diversity needs to start at the top and be a priority for every single employee. It also may be the case of needing to factor in the entire employee base at the company to be as effective as possible.

Pinterest has taken some additional efforts. They have launched two programs, The Pinterest Apprenticeship Program and Pinterest Engage for engineers from non-traditional tech backgrounds or underrepresented backgrounds.

The apprenticeship program is for people with traditional backgrounds in things like computer science to see what it is like to be an engineer at Pinterest. The apprenticeships are a year long with an opportunity for long-term employment at the end.

Pinterest Engage is a summer internship program that lasts eight weeks for first-year college students from underrepresented backgrounds that are already studying computer science, computer engineering, software engineering and other related majors.

However, according to a recent study, diversity initiatives can be threatening to white people. They don’t necessarily help someone from an underrepresented group to feel more included or less at risk for discrimination. The study claims that it would be better to employ data-driven, research-based strategies with measurable goals, which is something Pinterest is working on with diversity and inclusion strategy startup Paradigm.

Their goals with Paradigm are to increase hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30 percent female, increase hiring rates for full-time engineers to 8 percent from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds; increase hiring rates for non-engineering roles to 12 percent from underrepresented backgrounds; and implement a Rooney Rule requirement where at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female candidate is interviewed for every open leadership position.

What do you think of Pinterest and their initiatives?

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