Lessons from Yelp's empirical approach to diversity

    By: Kelsey Vuillemot on Nov 13, 2017

    Rachel Williams, Gauri Subramani, Michael Luca, and Geoff Donaker write, "Beginning in 2013, a handful of tech companies (including Yelp, where some of us work, Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook) began to research and release data on the diversity of their workforces. The numbers were grim. For instance, in 2014 only 10% of Yelp’s engineers were female. Seven percent of Yelp employees were Hispanic, and 4% were black. These figures were similar at other tech companies, most of which had fewer than 20% of their technical positions filled by women and had low representation of black and Hispanic employees. At Yelp and elsewhere, seeing these numbers was a wake-up call.

    Leaders at Yelp wanted things to change for two main reasons. First, only by bringing in candidates of all backgrounds could Yelp really make sure it was hiring the best and brightest. After all, a company that excludes women and minorities is accessing less than 40% of the labor pool. Second, having a diverse set of employees would help Yelp to customize its services for its diverse set of users. Airbnb’s experience serves as a cautionary tale in this respect. When research by one of us (Michael) and others demonstrated that there was widespread racial discrimination on the platform, Airbnb acknowledged that it might have handled the problem better if it had a more diverse workforce. According to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, 'As a founder, I think we were late to this issue.… When we designed the platform, three white guys, there were a lot of things we didn’t think about.'"


    Released: November 13, 2017, 11:17 am
    Keywords: NAWL News

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