Why Should Companies Prioritize Diversity? Glassdoor Asks Leaders at Pinterest, IBM and GitHub
Pinterest, IBM and GitHub talk diversity

Why Should Companies Prioritize Diversity? Glassdoor Asks Leaders at Pinterest, IBM and GitHub

There's no shortage of coverage on the topic of diversity and inclusion. And it goes way beyond complying with laws or "doing the right thing." There's serious data to support the fact that hiring a diverse workforce is good for business.

It's also good for company culture. A full two-thirds (67 percent) of active and passive job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. No matter the size of your company, making diversity a priority is a fundamental step toward becoming a recruiting and branding powerhouse.

More than ever, candidates are specifically interested in companies that make diversity a priority and encourage individuals to succeed and prosper together. But what does it feel like on the inside of companies that prioritize D&I? We spoke with leaders at Pinterest, IBM and GitHub to get a range of insights on the real benefits of diversity and inclusion.

Let's start with our chat with Candice Morgan, Head of Diversity at Pinterest. We asked her about the specific ways diversity and inclusion have imprinted on the the company.

Glassdoor: Do you feel like diversity has really contributed to innovation at Pinterest?

Candice Morgan: It absolutely has. The real way that diversity contributes to innovation is in such an organic way. It's not like "Hey, I added a woman to the team and then she thought about an idea for women and then we get better for women." It's not that kind of plug and play but it's about "Wow, I'm sitting across the table with a person from a background I have never encountered before or know very little about. This person probably knows things that I don't know and I might know things that this person doesn't know." It's about staying curious and challenging one another to get to the best result.

Glassdoor: Any concrete examples of innovation being spurred by diversity?

Candice Morgan: One example is how we recently expanded the gender option. When you sign up on Pinterest, we want you to start to explore things. We want to give you things that help you customize your experience but gender is one of the things that we do ask people upon sign up, but our gender options were very binary: male and female. One of our software engineers worked to expand our gender options that people could put in and reflect a fluid spectrum in terms of gender identity. She allowed much more customization around that.

Another example is when our community team worked on down ranking [photos] that were culturally insensitive in Halloween searches. We wanted to make sure that LGBTQ friendly search results weren't being censored for reasons that didn't make sense. Since we were really adapting the product to our user, we also want to make sure that it's a culturally respectful environment.

Lastly, Pinterest has our Pin It button that allows users to pin something and save it to a board. One of our international teams in South America recognized that Pin It doesn't translate. Our fastest growing user segments are outside the United States. Translating Pin It really made sense. They surfaced the idea that perhaps we could be more explicit that the point of Pin It is really saving to boards. Therefore, globally we made sure to roll out a Saving button. We saw a huge increase in international engagement for users whose primary language is not English.

We asked the same question of IBM's VP of HR, Obed Louissaint:

Glassdoor: How have you seen diversity of workforce impact innovation at IBM?

Obed Louissaint: We have employee diversity groups at IBM, including executive diversity groups for women, Latinos, Asians, for people with disabilities, people from the LGBTQ community, veterans and for individuals who are living and working with flexible work arrangements. We allow people to be in environments where they feel comfortable working with each other, learning from each other, and sharing experience about how they can help each other grow. I've just finished with an interview of a candidate. He asked, "what does it take to be successful here?" I told him, you have to bring your own identity to work.

And, finally, we checked in with Nicole Sanchez, VP of Social Impact at GitHub:

Glassdoor: What are some examples of innovations that diverse teams have created on or at GitHub?

Nicole Sanchez: There are several that I like to support, but one that blew my mind really early on was GliaX. They uploaded the specs for 3D printed medical equipment on GitHub, so technologists in conflict zones can access them. Getting a 3D printer in once and materials after that is much easier and more efficient - an entire stethoscope, for example, will cost between $2.50 and $5 to produce as opposed to having to order thousands of dollars' worth.

Another one is REFUGE restrooms. At a hackathon hosted by Trans*H4CK, some gender nonconforming and transgender folks built an app that allows people to crowdsource safe, free public restrooms. We know that violence can and has often occurred in bathrooms when people have been misgendered or forced to use a bathroom that doesn't match the gender with which they identify. And on this app, you can open it and walk down the street and see where there's a safe space to use a restroom. It's so specific in terms of being a problem, but the solution is so elegant, relatively simple and impactful.

We've also supported a major initiative in the United States with the former administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) called ConnectHome where we helped connect 28 communities living in public and HUD-assisted housing with internet in their homes for the first time - we put about $500,000 and several thousand hours of staff time into that. Once they were up and running, we made sure they had access to GitHub and sent people out to do training and introduce them to careers in technology.

The list goes on and on, but those are some of the things I like to highlight. It helps people understand that Social Impact is not just the philanthropic arm of GitHub - while that's true, we're also connected right back to the business. If we're not investing in a more diverse group of users and employees, we're going to be left behind in an increasingly crowded space.

This is a sampling of three companies' takes on the benefits of diversity and inclusion, so this is a small slice of insight into the effects diversity and inclusion programs have on a company. But even across these three organizations, you can see a variety of ways that diversity has made an impact. At Pinterest, fundamental gender option binaries are being exploded. At IBM, the focus is on how allowing people to be their true diverse selves at work has changed culture for the better, allowing employees to give and take support from one another freely. And at GitHub, there's quantifiable proof that by inviting a broad range of people to the table, you make the conditions right for big ideas with global impact to take shape.

What if your company took diversity and inclusion to the next step? What innovations would be spearheaded by bringing together a range of perspectives, passion and skillsets? Maybe it's time to find out. Glassdoor has worked with a number of companies on diversity campaigns. For more information, see our job ads page.

For specific tips on how to up your diversity hiring efforts, read How to Really Improve You Diversity Hiring Initiatives.