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Pipeline problem? This tech company says ‘No excuses’ with a transparent diversity report – A N I T H
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Pipeline problem? This tech company says ‘No excuses’ with a transparent diversity report

Pipeline problem? This tech company says ‘No excuses’ with a transparent diversity report


Silicon Valley is known for being white and male. 

Square isn’t different. It is, however, different in how it’s talking about addressing that issue. 

The payments company, led by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, released its first-ever diversity report Tuesday that justified the same-old narrative, with numbers. Overall, 63.3 percent of the company is male and 57.3 percent is white. 

The company isn’t letting that go or justifying the dismay with excuses. 

“We believe ongoing improvements to sourcing and hiring processes are driving some of this progress. We don’t subscribe to a ‘pipeline’ excuse; we’ve been able to draw from the current pipeline, in particular for new college grads,” Square wrote in its diversity report. 

The “pipeline excuse” Square referred to is used commonly by tech companies to explain away their similarly dismal diversity numbers. Finding diverse talent to work at a tech company can be difficult when the pool of graduates you’re looking at is mostly white and male, they claim.

It’s a self-perpetuating issue. Tech giants like Facebook and Google often require new recruits to have experience at other tech giants, as well, which essentially creates an even smaller pool of primarily white, male people. 

Square’s statement is quite unlike Facebook. When Facebook released its diversity report in July of last year, Maxine Williams, Facebook’s global head of diversity, gave the so-called “pipeline” problem as an excuse.

“It has become clear that at the most fundamental level, appropriate representation in technology or any other industry will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system,” Williams wrote.

The claims are in some ways substantiated by data. Back in 1985, 37 percent of computer science graduates were women, while in 2015, it was only 18 percent.

That did little to quiet diversity advocates. Facebook’s statement was a “fucking insult,” Leslie Miley, outspoken advocate of diversity in Silicon Valley, told The Huffington Post at the time. 

Meanwhile, Square is proving that companies can make improvements: 

“We’ll continue to look beyond traditional recruiting channels and referral networks,” Square’s report reads.

What’s also impressive about Square’s first-ever publicly-released report is its elaboration on diversity. While these numbers may be looked at internally by diversity heads and human resources leads at other tech company, this is one of the first times they’ve been so publicly shared. Diversity reports are not government mandated but have become a habit of some tech giants ever since 2013. 

Square showed numbers beyond just race and gender. They also looked at sexual orientation, trans identity, and language. 

“English is not the first language of more than 30 percent of our employees,” Square noted. 

An entire section of the report is dedicated to inclusion, as in making employees feel safe and appreciated at a company rather just looking at the present numbers and focusing on adjusting them via recruiting tactics. 

“Companies sometimes focus more energy and attention on employees they don’t have, as opposed to those they do, but setting and meeting aggressive recruiting goals doesn’t matter much if you can’t develop and retain the people you hire,” Square wrote in its report.

What’s also impressive is that Square found “no difference in overall retention rates when comparing across gender and ethnicity,” so therefore it’s not believed that people are more likely to abandon the company if they are in a minority group. 

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Anith Gopal
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