Building a more inclusive Twitter in 2016


Twitter is where inclusion lives; where movements form, information is shared and change happens, all in real time. The world has seen this with conversations around #BlackLivesMatter, #SheInspiresMe, #LoveIsLove, #OrlandoStrong, #BlackWomenDidThat, and many more. And we are focused on that spirit of inclusion in our workplace too.

Throughout 2016, we implemented practices that advance our commitment, identified and acted on vulnerabilities that prevent it, and partnered with organizations that can help us ensure that we’re building a diverse and inclusive workforce. Here’s some of what we’ve been up to:

  • Recognizing the importance of focusing on behaviors that stand in the way of inclusion, we partnered with Paradigm to deliver live inclusion and unconscious bias workshops to our employees around the world. These workshops are facilitated by experts in the field and offer a space for employees to learn about how bias can come into play at work, openly share perspectives, as well as develop strategies and skills for actively managing bias.

“We facilitate trainings at a lot of companies. Twitter had a unique interest in tracking the long-term impact of their trainings, allowing us to learn that content designed both to raise awareness and to manage bias resulted in actual behavioral change in employees.

Joelle EmersonCEO of Paradigm
  • Our leadership team and Board grew, becoming more representative of the people and communities that use our service. And our CEO, Jack Dorsey, was named the Thurgood Marshall College Fund CEO of The Year.

  • Reaching and moving beyond our goals also depends on an investment in our people and their growth. So we have piloted new programs focused on the development, visibility, and sponsorship of women and underrepresented minorities in different areas. We recognize the power of the leadership stories of our women, and annually name several as MAKERS. And in 2016, all our open country head positions were filled by women.

  • We put ourselves where the talent is, and we showed up in force at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, National Society of Black Engineers’ (NSBE) annual convention, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Conference (SHPE). We launched a partnership with CODE2040, focused on minority software engineering students. We updated our career site with a new inclusion and diversity section. To mitigate against unconscious bias and optimize for inclusion, we made strategic changes to our technical interview process, and implemented software-based tools to both increase our candidate pool and improve our job descriptions. We also built out a dedicated university diversity recruiting function to reach more students, creating tailored plans for each region as well as Twitter-specific onsite programs like #FirstFlight for potential university recruits. Our goal is to create an even stronger sense of belonging in our interview process.

  • We don’t presume to have all the answers. So, we seek to learn from organizations that reach different communities in their day-to-day work or who invest in the next generation of talent. We support ADCOLOR (focused on diversity in creative fields), Tech Women, Lesbians Who Tech, AfroTech, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, and Girls Who Code, to name a few.
  • We expanded how we think about parental responsibilities and leave, updating our policy to provide up to 20 weeks paid leave to all parents globally, regardless of gender or gender identity and inclusive of adoption, natural birth, or surrogacy.
  • Our culture of inclusion has been made stronger by our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Whether influencing how important decisions about the workforce are made, strengthening communities internally, impacting how we show up on and off Twitter, or recruiting diverse talent, ERGs are central to our commitment to inclusion and diversity. They have a total following of close to one million on Twitter, and they engage with these followers regularly as well as invite in communities around us for events and topical discussions.

  • We also introduced two new ERGs: Twitter Parents and Twitter Stripes (supporting our Veteran community). And coming soon, we’ll be welcoming a new group supporting Asian employees.
  • Lastly, we hired an ERG Program Manager to work directly with our ERGs to support their strategies and impact.

For 2016, we sought to push ourselves in a distinguishing way and set measurable goals, and we’re happy to share that we’ve met or surpassed many of these. With our commitment we have seen progress in hiring and career development, culture, policies and, as a result, increases in overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities.

*We are also focused on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2016 for the first time, we gave all US new hires the opportunity to self-identify as LGBTQ. While this data collection is new and therefore limited, we wanted those who chose to identify to be counted. Of employees answering, 10% identified as LGBTQ. As more employees respond in 2017, we expect to have a more complete picture.

We know that the effects of our actions — many of which were new for 2016 — cannot be immediate. We are focused on sustained efforts that will help us draw more diverse talent, create great experiences and careers, and foster a culture of belonging that fully lives up to the spirit of community on Twitter itself. And we will continue to come together with and learn from our industry peers, in the spirit of doing better not just for ourselves but for the industry as a greater whole.

Our commitment to inclusion and diversity is fundamental to who we are and crucial to the effectiveness of our service. One-and-done measurements don’t apply here, so we’re again setting representation goals for 2017. Also, we’re going further by adding a new goal, for underrepresented minorities in non-tech roles. Whatever the goal area, we will continue to be broadly focused on inclusion, prioritizing intersectionality and specific underrepresented groups, and acting on different opportunities for our different business functions.

U.S. Congressman John Lewis, who recently visited us to share civil rights movement experiences captured in his award-winning “March” trilogy, reminded us that “we all live in the same house … the world house. We are one people, we are one family, we must look up [at] each other and build that beloved community, that beloved world.” We seek to live up to the spirit of this truth – creating a workplace that fosters belonging and enables everyone at Twitter to thrive. Not in spite of their differences, but because of them.

Click here to see our September 2016 EEO-1 report.