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Meet Candice Morgan, Pinterest’s New Head of Diversity

Pinterest seems to have gotten it right with the hiring of their first head of diversity.

Candice Morgan has been charged with building and leading the diversity and inclusion initiatives that will make the bookmarking social network a more diverse product and company, the company announced on January 6.

The selection of Morgan, an African American woman, has been lauded as a step in the right direction in the tech industry.

“Our vision at Pinterest is to build a product that inspires everyone,” said Evan Sharp, co-founder & chief creative officer of Pinterest. “To make this happen, we need to understand the perspectives and needs of people around the world.”

In a statement to NBCBLK, Sharp said Morgan is “a critical addition to our vision, and will help build the programs and teams we need to reach our creative potential as a company.”

Morgan, who has more than 10 years experience working to create diverse and inclusive work environments, said she is fully aware of the challenge that is before her. However, she is thrilled to be stepping into what she considers a meaningful commitment by the leaders at Pinterest.

“Certainly starting a new role is challenging for anyone, made more unique given the charged public dialogue in the diversity and inclusion space,” she told NBCBLK via email. “Misperceptions are common, and many fail to connect the business advantages of getting to pick from a broader range of the many talented candidates in the tech space. However, I've spent a lot of time in this field, and have seen really great strides that genuinely committed companies like Pinterest can and do make.”

While her hiring is groundbreaking in many ways, Morgan is sure to highlight the foundation laid by Pinterest engineers Tracy Chou and Makinde Adeagbo as the catalyst for her own hiring.

“Pinterest's co-founders Evan and Ben, and the People team, had really started down the path by setting impressive goals and being willing to try for new solutions,” she said. “It was unique to see the discourse happening from multiple perspectives. I'm also a Pinner and love the inspiring nature of the product.”

In July of 2015, the company announced their diversity hiring goals in this blog. The blog highlighted their success, like increasing the number of female employees by 2%, engineering interns by 4% and hiring women engineers out of school by 5%. However, they admitted then they still have work to do, especially as it pertained to their representation of those categorized as “members of underrepresented communities”.

Their goals for 2016 include:

  • 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.

They also announced the implementation of “a Rooney Rule-type” requirement that would solidify the interviewing of at least one person of color and one female for “every open leadership position.”

Pinterest knows how to hire great people, said Morgan.

“We're not looking to change the technical skills and values we are looking for in candidates. The goal is really to make sure that the criteria for decision-making on talent (e.g. hiring, reviews, and promotions) are very transparent and objective,” she said. “That includes where we look for talent, which is why the new Pinterest Apprenticeship and Pinterest Engage programs cast a wider net for engineers from non-traditional backgrounds who still possess those criteria.”

The Apprenticeship Program is designed to recruit engineers from what they call non-traditional tech backgrounds. Pinterest Engage will target individuals early in their college careers who have expressed an interest in some area of tech. Participants in the apprenticeship will be with the company initially for a year. Participants for Engage will be awarded an eight-week internship beginning this summer.

For Morgan, these are just two priorities for Pinterest and for her as their head of diversity. Most importantly and more personally, her top priority is ensuring the workforce at Pinterest represents “the diverse range of talent that is engaged in the tech industry.”

“Honestly, it's possible to work well with those who are different from us. We do it all the time! Our families, our social networks, all include people with different styles of working and communication,” she said. “As long as we trust that we are working towards the same goals, and that those who differ from us do bring valuable skills to the table that complement our own, we can work effectively.”