Diversity And Inclusion Offices Are A Step In The Right Direction, Not The Destination

Graphic of a tablet with the twitter logo on the screen, on a table. The person using the tablet is also holding a coffee mug.

Twitter recently appointed Dalana Brand as its newest diversity and inclusion officer, hoping to curve some of its low diversity numbers of women in the company internationally and Black and Latino employees in the United States.

Brand previously worked for Twitter as the head of total rewards.

“Her impact was immediate,” Twitter Head of People and Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland said in a series of tweets. “Throughout her career, she’s been a passionate and vocal advocate for gender and pay equity, has served on I&D leadership councils and helped formulate impactful diversity strategies.”

Earlier this month, Twitter announced that it was unable to meet its diversity targets by December 2018. To be clear, Twitter’s targets for Black and Latino employees were already low, so the fact that the company was unable to meet those goals highlights a bigger issue for Twitter and the greater tech community. Twitter said it wanted 5 percent of its U.S. employees to be Black and another 5 percent to be Latino.

“When we say we want our company to reflect our service, we’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve made solid progress towards our goals,” Twitter said in its post.

In 2017, Black and Latino populations each made up 3.4 percent of Twitter’s workforce. The company closed out 2018 with 4.5 percent Black employees and 3.9 percent Latino employees. Twitter has missed its 5 percent target for these employees two years in a row.

Twitter’s Blacks and Latinos accounted for 4.7 percent and 2.7 percent of the company’s leadership positions, respectively, which plays a major role in why the company has not reached its broader diversity goals. Twitter’s diversity issue is what happens when startup companies view diversity as an afterthought.

For more companies to reap the benefits of diversity, it must be ingrained in the fabric of their missions. Big tech companies like Lyft, Facebook and Twitter are too reactionary to diversity numbers and are depending on diversity and inclusion officers to fix major issues that can only be solved from the ground up.

Increasing diversity starts at the hiring level. Companies like Twitter are expecting to revamp their diversity stats without taking a strong look at some of the perceptions of the people who have hiring power within the company. Aggressive recruitment practices at historically black colleges and universities and Latino serving institutions, along with other initiatives, need to be put in place to improve Twitter, and other big tech firms’, numbers.

“There’s a larger tech diversity deficit and we want to help drive the industry forward,” Berland said in a series of tweets. “We must collaborate with external partners and serve the conversation in ways only Twitter can. We’re doubling down here with dedicated leadership.”