Pinterest just released its latest Inclusion and Diversity Report, revealing a slight increase in the number of women in leadership and an increase in the number of women employees worldwide. The news comes on the heels of a rocky year with the departure of several senior-level executives. Pinterest’s new global head of Diversity and Inclusion, Nichole Barnes Marshall, still seemed optimistic following the release of the company’s modest progress in representation.
Last year, Pinterest announced its goal to increase women in leadership roles to 36% and increase representation of Black, Latinx and Indigenous employees to 20% by 2025. In 2021, 33% of leadership roles were filled by women, up from 30% the year prior. And the representation of employees who self-identify as Black, Latinx or Hispanic, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander rose to 16%, from 12%.
“What surprised me the most is just how much progress we made from 2020 to 2021, particularly in the representation of women. We're halfway to our goal,” said Barnes Marshall.
Barnes Marshall, who is now on the cusp of her first 90 days in the position, was named the head of Diversity and Inclusion in January. Her predecessor Tyi McCray departed from Pinterest last July after just a year in the role, following a year wrapped in controversy related to alleged discrimination and retaliation against two Black female employees.
Despite the controversy, Pinterest has continued to see overall gains as it relates to total representation of women. Women now make up 51% of Pinterest’s global workforce, up from 49% in 2020. However, the company’s engineering team has seen slower growth in representation. In 2021, 30% of Pinterest’s global engineering team identified as women, up from 29% the year prior.
And like most companies in the tech industry, Pinterest is still primarily white. Black employees account for 7% of its U.S. workforce, and 4% of both its leadership and its engineering team respectively. Of all U.S. employees, 6% identify as Latinx or Hispanic, and even fewer are in engineering or leadership.
“By no means do we think we've got it figured out,” said Barnes Marshall in conversation with Protocol. “But I think with the progress that we're making it just creates even more opportunity for us to put our foot on the gas, if you will, especially since we have some momentum.”
She points to the company's apprenticeship program as one of its largest efforts underway to recruit and cultivate more diverse talent. Its Engineering and Products apprenticeship programs have a specific focus on attracting talent from underrepresented backgrounds with non-traditional tech experience like those who are self-taught or attended a boot camp. In general, the company has removed degree requirements from 90% of its job postings to widen the amount of talent it attracts, according to the report.
Barnes Marshall also said continuing to call out each individual group in the Inclusion and Diversity Report, rather than lumping them all in one category as “underrepresented,” is an intentional way of expressing Pinterest’s values to employees and future hires alike. Despite how it may look to others or the risk that the numbers reflect poorly on the company, “calling out each of the individual groups is another subtle, but intentional effort saying, ‘We see you,’” she said. “It is about that opportunity of being seen and, really for us, inviting accountability. It really is about making sure we have progress over perfection.”