Launch point? Start at the top.
Like many tech companies, Twitter’s TWTR 2.02% track record on diversity isn’t great.
Only 34% of its employees are women; only 13% of its employees in tech roles are. Underrepresented minorities make up just 10% of the overall staff and 7% of the company’s tech roles.
But Twitter is working to improve that. In December, the San Francisco-based business hired Jeffrey Siminoff as its new head of diversity and inclusion. Twitter initially received criticism for filling the role with a white male, a topic Siminoff addressed when we spoke at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen in July.
“Yes, I haven’t walked certain paths and the color of my skin is not mutable … but you can be part of a conversation and you can listen and learn, and you can take constructively the sentiments that were expressed in those perspectives early on,” Siminoff said. “We know we’re all in this together and if we look at it divisively, progress will never be made.”
The company publicly set diversity goals for itself in 2016, aiming for small increases in each category (often by 1% to 3%). As Fortune noted last year, being held publicly accountable for its diversity goals is a big step forward for the company, and for the tech industry as a whole. Compared with other tech companies, Twitter is less diverse than Airbnb, eBay, and LinkedIn, but more diverse than Facebook and Alphabet.
Siminoff said improving diversity starts at the top—being mindful of executive hiring, including at Twitter’s board of directors—and extends through employee resource groups and even Twitter’s product. Siminoff pointed to Twitter’s use of its Black History Month hashtag for Tweets related to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
“When we engage externally, we not only support that organization’s work but also create a sense of community and solidarity with our own employees,” he said.