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Silicon Valley sucks at diverse hiring. Lesbians Who Tech wants to change that

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12.09.2019

Since 2014—when Tracy Chou called out Pinterest’s gender imbalance—the tech industry has spouted platitudes about the value of diversity. “Diversity is critical to our success as a company,” Facebook wrote in its diversity report this year. “People from all backgrounds rely on Facebook to connect with others, and we will better serve their needs with a more diverse workforce.”

Over the last five years, many companies have hired a head of diversity, and according to a 2017 estimate, tech companies have spent about $1.2 billion on diversity initiatives. In annual diversity reports, leading tech companies have outlined marginal change in their race and gender diversity numbers and proclaimed they “need to do more.”

But when Leanne Pittsford, the founder of Lesbians Who Tech—a network of queer women known for its annual conferences—approached companies with an idea that might help them do just that, some were quick to note that their priorities laid elsewhere. “Obviously lesbians are women, which is sometimes shocking to people,” she says. “When I first started this, I talked to companies and they’d be like, ‘You know Leanne, this sounds like a great idea, but we’re just not recruiting for LGBTQ people yet. We’re really focused on women in tech right now. I would say 60% of people would mention that at some point.”

What Pittsford proposed was Include.io, her answer to a question that has plagued tech for years: How do you consistently recruit diverse candidates? As a hiring platform and recruiting tool, Include.io is a natural extension of Lesbians Who Tech, a coterie Pittsford pulled together in 2013 to fill a void she felt as a queer woman in tech. “We kind of get left out of the women’s space, and we get left out of the LGBTQ space, because we’re the underrepresented group in both those markets,” she says. “I’d........

© Fast Company