20 Bay Area companies pledge to advance diversity in executive suites, cast wider recruitment net

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- 20 Bay Area companies have signed the diversity-building "25 x 25 Pledge" on Friday.

The pledge requires that 25% of their leadership will be persons of color or women by 2025, or that the ranks of these individuals will increase by at least 25% in the same time frame.

Race and social justice is one of the key pillars of Building A Better Bay Area.

Many companies see diversity and inclusion as keys to success, but people of color and women are often missing when they look among their leadership.

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On Friday, nearly two-dozen companies in Silicon Valley and beyond signed a pledge to change that.

It was an ambitious challenge introduced a month ago.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group started the initiative to bring race and social justice from the streets to the corporate suites.

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"The beauty of Silicon Valley's unique mindset is that once we do identify a static system that's no longer scaling, we start to fundamentally start to disrupt it," said Ahmad Thomas, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Well known companies, educational institutions and the San Francisco 49ers make up the inaugural group, which is expected to expand as the years go on.

The Bay Area Council has also joined as a partner to the program.

During Friday's kickoff diversity summit, thought leaders of the 25 x 25 movement said hiring companies need to look beyond the numbers.

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"You really can't extract the benefits of diversity unless all employees are full participants in the enterprise," said Prof. Robin Ely of Harvard Business School. "They need to be fully seen, have a voice, be recognized."

Where will these companies find diverse candidates?

The search for skilled workers will need go beyond the Bay Area.

"We have to be willing to go to Atlanta, to Washington DC, to New York to find this talent because it's there," says Roger Crockett, chief diversity officer at Western Digital.

The Robert Half search firm says almost one-third of Bay Area hiring managers already are recruiting nationwide.

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The 25 x 25 Pledge may also create opportunities for existing employees with executive potential to move up in their current companies.

"They only have three years of experience. You were looking for ideally seven, eight years," says Ireneo Mendoza, Robert Half's regional vice president. "You might give that person an opportunity. So you can hire from within."

Pledge organizers say company performance will be measured by participants making their recruitment data and progress transparent.
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