Twitter Is The Latest Tech Company To Half-Heartedly Commit To Diversity

The company wants to increase the number of women and minorities on its tech and leadership teams.
Twitter executives celebrate the company's IPO.
Twitter executives celebrate the company's IPO.

Twitter is the latest Silicon Valley company to proclaim it will start holding itself accountable for the highly skewed gender and racial makeup of its staff. 

The company said in a blog post Friday that it is "committing to a more diverse Twitter." Currently, Twitter's staff -- and particularly its tech and leadership teams -- are overwhelmingly white and male, not unlike most companies in Silicon Valley.  

The bad news is that Twitter doesn't seem to be committing to increasing its overall diversity much higher than current levels. However, the good news is that the company does seem to be committing to stronger growth in diversity on both its leadership and tech teams, where white men are the most entrenched.

The announcement sees Twitter following in the footsteps of Apple and Pinterest, both of which have measurable diversity goals.  

And here are the microblogging site's goals for 2016, as listed in its blog post, and the numbers the company listed in 2015 for comparison:

  • Increase women overall to 35 percent (currently 34 percent)
  • Increase women in tech roles to 16 percent (currently 13 percent)
  • Increase women in leadership roles to 25 percent (currently 22 percent)
  • Increase underrepresented minorities overall to 11 percent* (currently about 10 percent)
  • Increase underrepresented minorities in tech roles to 9 percent* (currently about 7 percent)
  • Increase underrepresented minorities in leadership roles to 6 percent* (currently zero)

*US only

Twitter has been improving on the diversity front in the past year. Between 2014 and 2015 it increased the percentage of women on its tech team to 13 percent from 10 percent, and increased the percentage of women overall to 34 percent, from 30 percent. The company's underrepresented minority percentages, however, didn't change much.

Here is a visual of the diversity data Twitter released in 2015:

 And here is 2014:

If Twitter ends up meeting the goals it has set for itself, the question becomes: Is this diversity sustainable? It's one thing to go on a diversity hiring spree. It's a totally different thing for a company to prove it has the sort of work environment that encourages diverse people to stick around. Will smart people who are not "brogrammers" feel comfortable and advance at the company?

That, ultimately, is the big question that nearly every Silicon Valley company needs to ask itself. 

Twitter did not immediately return a request for comment.

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