Introducing Inclusion Labs

I am thrilled to announce that Paradigm will be piloting a new initiative, Inclusion Labs, with Pinterest beginning this Fall. Earlier this year I wrote a TechCrunch post that outlined the broad strategies that we at Paradigm believe tech companies should engage in to build more diverse and inclusive organizations. Since Paradigm began working with Pinterest seven months ago, we have partnered to implement each of these strategies. We are now excited to expand this partnership with the introduction of Inclusion Labs, which will allow us to work together more comprehensively, and, we hope, to identify strategies that will strengthen the tech industry more broadly. Here are a few examples of what Pinterest and Paradigm have been working on together over the past several months:

Founders and leaders, get involved: Pinterest’s C-level team, including its Founder and CEO Ben Silbermann, invited my partner Natalie and me to facilitate a two-hour workshop on unconscious bias, with a focus on how these leaders can minimize bias as individuals, as leaders of Pinterest, and at a structural level - in Pinterest’s processes and culture.

Collect better data: Pinterest is not only collecting more granular data beyond its overall demographic numbers, but it is thoughtfully slicing its data to help clarify exactly where things stand. For example, while many companies share the diversity within “tech” and “non-tech” roles without ever defining these terms, Pinterest has broken down its measurement into both “tech” and, more specifically, “engineering.” As Pinterest Co-Founder Evan Sharp acknowledged in a blog post today, Pinterest has a long way to go. But by measuring data and communicating that data clearly, it can more thoughtfully evaluate progress towards its goals.

Expand your network: Pinterest has started building a more diverse network by developing relationships with, and actively recruiting from, schools with more diverse student bodies. Pinterest has also started hosting events at its offices, including a Blacks in Tech event earlier this week and a Future Female Founders event in June, to support diverse communities and expand its network.

Think deliberately about your hiring process: We have been working with Pinterest to pinpoint and address areas of the hiring process potentially affected by bias. Two of the changes Pinterest has made since we’ve been working with them include: (1) eliminating the requirement that engineering candidates code on a whiteboard during the interview process, which can disadvantage people from underrepresented backgrounds; and (2) ending the prioritization of referral candidates over non-referral candidates, which had the potential to limit Pinterest’s ability to effectively recruit and hire from new, and potentially more diverse, networks.

Create a company culture that supports diverse employees: Pinterest has worked to identify how employees perceive the company’s inclusiveness by adding questions to its company engagement survey about inclusivity. Pinterest has also started rolling out unconscious bias workshops, designed and facilitated by Paradigm, to the entire company. In addition to companywide workshops, Paradigm is training Pinterest managers on how to write unbiased performance reviews, and we are training promotion committee members to identify potential areas of bias in promotion decisions. Beyond training, Pinterest is implementing reminders at various points in the people process to encourage employees to make less biased and more objective decisions.

We look forward to continued collaboration with Pinterest on each of these efforts.

Why Inclusion Labs?

Through Inclusion Labs, Paradigm will conduct innovative workforce research to identify and better understand barriers to diversity, test new strategies for addressing these barriers, and share publicly as much information as we can about what we’re learning. Paradigm is committed to improving the systems and processes that affect diversity at our client companies; more broadly, though, we’re interested in designing and testing ideas that have potential to impact the tech industry at large. Pinterest shares our passion for impact, and has expressed to us their belief that by cultivating a more diverse and inclusive tech community, every company within that community will be better off. We are excited to launch Inclusion Labs at Pinterest to advance our shared vision not only of building a better Pinterest, but of contributing to a stronger industry.