4 Organizations Making Meaningful Differences for Diversity in Tech

August 18, 2015
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The tech world is in the midst of confronting a diversity problem.

The tech world is in the midst of confronting a diversity problem. Companies like Google and Facebook have released numbers that show a workforce made primarily of white males, while hashtags such as #ILookLikeAnEngineer are working to fight common stereotypes about what a software engineer really looks like.

Unfortunately, this is an uphill battle that cannot be fought by one company or one hashtag alone. In an industry that claims to be about innovation, progress, and a more connected world, every tech company should be prioritizing equality.

Many companies will say that there is still a lot of work to be done, but the four organizations listed below are actually taking action and leading the way when it comes to diversity initiatives and opportunities for talented engineers—regardless of gender, race, or nationality.

Here are 4 organizations committed to making meaningful differences for diversity in tech.

1. Toptal

Toptal is a hugely successful distributed network of elite freelance software developers who live and work from 93 countries, and its global community reflects an extremely broad spectrum of backgrounds. A common thread among many “Toptalers” is a profound gratitude for the helping hands that gave them the opportunity to succeed.

That spirit is reflected in Toptal’s recent bold and innovative move to create the Toptal Global Mentors Program, in which Toptal developers from around the world volunteer to mentor disadvantaged students, largely in the U.S., who are seeking careers as software engineers. Formed in partnership with General Assembly, a global organization focused on technical education for students from traditionally underrepresented groups, Toptal volunteers are contributing the equivalent of $1 million in mentorship time for General Assembly students and graduates over a period of up to two years. Toptal has also donated $100K to establish Toptal Fellowships at General Assembly to help talented students from minority and low-income groups achieve their career goals in software engineering.  

Toptal believes that the road to greater diversity will be through investment in talented people who might be otherwise shut off from software careers due to a lack of opportunity. Moreover, Toptal recognizes from experience that the best software engineering teams are those with skilled individuals from diverse backgrounds, and has thus taken a leadership role in promoting diversity in tech.

2. Intel

At the beginning of this year, Intel announced its Diversity in Technology initiative, which sets an ambitious new hiring and retention goal to achieve full representation for women and underrepresented minorities at Intel by 2020. This initiative plans to make Intel more representative of the talent available in America, which includes creating a more equal balance in senior leadership positions.

To accomsh this goal, Intel plans to invest $300 million to create a pipeline of female and under-represented engineers. The company believes that by failing to have a workforce that is representative of the general population, they are actually missing opportunities to find great employees.

Intel plans to partner with organizations like the International Game Developers Association, the E-Sports League, the National Center for Women in Technology, the CyberSmile Foundation, the Feminist Frequency, and Rainbow PUSH. Intel also aims to increase its engagement with primary education programs that focus on underserved areas. More details are outlined in a five-page report released by the company.

3. Pinterest

Pinterest is another big tech company that has made promises for a more diverse workplace, but the online scrapbooking site plans to hold itself accountable by releasing hiring numbers to the public. This way, the company hopes that the entire tech industry will gain valuable knowledge for what works well and what does not when pushing diversity in hiring.

In a detailed report, Pinterest outlines its hiring goals for 2016:

  • Increase hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30% female.

  • Increase hiring rates for full-time engineers to 8% underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

  • Increase hiring rates for non-engineering roles to 12% underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

  • Implement a Rooney Rule-type requirement where at least one person from an underrepresented background and one female candidate is interviewed for every open leadership position.

Pinterest promises to keep the public updated on its progress throughout the year, hopefully inspiring other tech companies to follow suit.

4. The White House

Okay, not really a tech company, but even the most powerful office in the country is pushing for more diversity in tech. Recently, the White House announced that it will be working with companies like Amazon and Microsoft, well-known VC firms, and the engineering departments at large universities to develop concrete plans that foster diversity.

The Obama administration made this announcement during its first ever Demo Day, where startup founders from a variety of backgrounds came together at the White House to discuss possible initiatives for creating more diversity in the tech industry.

If the first three amazing tech companies with new diversity initiatives aren’t enough to convince other tech companies to hop on board the diversity train, maybe the White House will be the push tech companies need to focus on diversity initiatives. If these two branches—tech and government—can join forces, perhaps real changes will be made.

(Image Credit: Flickr, Creative Commons: George A. Spiva Center)