In 2020, our organization at Pinterest led the company in hiring from underrepresented backgrounds. Pinterest had set engineering-wide hiring goals of 25% women and 8% underrepresented engineers. Our organization vastly exceeded those goals, hiring 63% women and 25% underrepresented engineers in 2020H2.

Building an inclusive and diverse team requires dedication and active participation at all leadership levels. We greatly exceeded the eng-wide goals via a focus on inclusion, a diverse slate approach, ambitious goal setting, and full team prioritization of inclusion & diversity.

I am sharing the factors that led to such success with the hope that it can be replicated by other teams and organizations…

Focus on Inclusion

Inclusion is the first step toward building a diverse team. Without inclusion, team members of diverse backgrounds can feel isolated and unsafe, resulting in attrition. Inclusive teams are the foundation on which diverse teams are built.

Our organization led an optional I&D Learning Day on Juneteenth of 2020. In the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, we created time and space for the team to learn more about inclusion and diversity, specifically as it related to racial injustice affecting the black community. All participants benefitted from one day of focused learning, and it provided a common language an understanding at an organizational level.

Introduction to Inclusion program was launched in 2020 as a company-wide educational resource. The Engineering team set attendance goals for 100% of engineering managers and 50% of engineers. Within our organization, the directors raised the goal to 100% of their team, which had a cascading effect to the team-level engineering leaders. As a result, 81% of our organization completed Introduction to Inclusion in 2020.

The impact of our focus on inclusion could be seen in our employee surveys. For the prompt, “On my team, my ideas are valued even when they are different from others” our organization showed an increase from 84% in October 2019, to 91% in March 2020, and up to 92% in October 2020.

Diverse Slates Approach

Applying the Diverse Slates Approach (DSA) to all roles was the most critical action which resulted in our team outperforming the rest of the company in hiring from underrepresented backgrounds.

Diverse Slates Approach requires that an on-site interview is conducted for women and/or underrepresented engineers for an open role. When a diverse slate was met with either a woman or underrepresented engineer, it was referred to as DS1. When it was met for both women and underrepresented talent it was referred to as DS2.

Our organization implemented Diverse Slates Approach with the DS2 requirement. This requirement did slow down recruiting efforts and required more work from hiring managers, but resulted in interviewing a broader applicant pool.

The emphasis on Diverse Slates Approach from the leadership team informed our approach and partnership with the recruiting team. As a result of defining those goals, recruiting sourced more candidates from underrepresented backgrounds which contributed to the increase in underrepresented hires. Recruiting attributed the success to hiring managers prioritizing underrepresented talent, focusing on talent from unique backgrounds (less emphasis on FAANG), and more underrepresented candidates for the roles our team hired (e.g. Web, Mobile, Full Stack).

Despite a slower process, our team was able to fill almost all open roles in 2020.

Ambitious Goal Setting

In 2020, Pinterest set several company-wide OKRs around Inclusion & Diversity. Our team focused on two of these company-wide goals:

  • 80% of roles require DS1, with on-site interviews conducted for a least one woman or underrepresented candidate.
  • 100% of EMs and 50% of engineers attend Introduction to Inclusion.

Our organization set more ambitious goals for each of these company-wide goals. Additionally, the directors of our organization included these goals in our personal OKRs, further emphasizing their importance.

  • 100% of roles require DS2, with on-site interviews conducted for both one woman and one underrepresented candidate.
  • 100% of our team attends Introduction to Inclusion.

We missed both of these more ambitious goals, but exceeded the company goals:

  • 16 hires were made with 100% meeting DS1, but only 50% meeting DS2 (exceeding company goal of 80% roles require DS1).
  • 100% of EMs and 81% of engineers completed Introduction to Inclusion (exceeding company goal of 50% for engineers).

Prioritizing Inclusion & Diversity

By prioritizing both inclusion and diversity (in that order), our organization led Pinterest in creating a more inclusive and diverse team and greatly exceeded company goals around hiring from underrepresented backgrounds. In addition to full-time hires, we also brought on 5 software apprentices from coding bootcamps in 2020, most of whom were from underrepresented backgrounds, but not included in our hiring stats shared above.

As a result of these efforts, we successfully built a team of people from diverse backgrounds and different perspectives. Diverse teams build better products for the diverse communities of people we serve, and resulted in Pinterest furthering its mission to bring everyone the inspiration they need to create a life they love.