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MEET JOELLE EMERSON, THE STARTUP CEO HELPING SLACK, PINTEREST AND AIRBNB TACKLE DIVERSITY

Diversity in the tech industry is dismal, with white men making up the vast majority of its workforce. That being said, tech companies are aware of the lack of diversity and some are even actively taking steps to do something about it. Pinterest, for example, recently announced a new diversity initiative called Inclusion Labs, in partnership with a startup called Paradigm. As part of Inclusion Labs, Pinterest has set goals to increase hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30% female, and interview at least one person from an underrepresented background as well as one woman for every open leadership position.

“We don’t believe that there are any silver bullets to getting diversity right, but it’s going to take creative approaches and a lot of hard work,”Pinterest Head of Recruiting Adam Ward told TechCrunch. “Some will work and others will not. Partnering with Paradigm will allow us to be thoughtful about what we try to and to share our findings and progress with the greater tech community along the way.”

I recently sat down with Paradigm CEO Joelle Emerson to chat about her work with high-profile tech startups, and hear more about what’s driving her to help foster diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley and the tech industry at large. Before Emerson started Paradigm last year, she practiced law around gender equality at Equal Rights Advocates, a non-profit organization for women’s rights. She had one goal in mind: to use the law to have a broad impact on equal opportunities in the workplace. But, over time, she became frustrated because of the reactive nature of the job. By the time Emerson would receive a case around sexual harassment or discrimination, it was too late in the sense that there was nothing she could do to protect those women from discrimination or harassment.

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