Leslie Miley, director of engineering for team communications app Slack, has come out against diversity quotas. According to TechCrunch, Miley said that the inherent lack of diversity in Silicon Valley should not resort to quotas to fill the voids.
Miley noted at a talk on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF that Silicon Valley has a huge problem with diversity, but that companies need to look outside the usual recruiting areas to grab a more diverse group of employees. As such, Slack has blind coding test examinations for potential candidates, and they look outside of Silicon Valley for talent, including opening an office in diverse Toronto.
“What I’m saying is we want a level playing field, you need to have a level playing field. How you level it is, you don’t [just] go to places like MIT and [University of California — Berkeley] and Stanford and focus on those places. I don’t want to have to talk about this again, I don’t believe in quotas, I think they’re inherently wrong and I think there are realistic solutions that don’t have quotas attached to it,” said Miley at his appearance.
Slack looks to up-and-coming areas for talent, like Detroit, Richmond and Nashville, which all feature diverse pools of talent.
“What happens when you hire diverse people – they talk to their friends, their network looks like them. They’re going to hire friends, associates, you start to make inroads in this company,” he continued.
Miley also noted that an organization called fwd.us, an organization set up by a diverse group of entrepreneurs looking to raise H-1 visa cap. He said the US should apply this model to less diverse areas of the US to get a more diverse workforce in Silicon Valley.
This is certainly not the first time Miley has been outspoken regarding the diversity debate. The former Twitter engineer was hired by Slack in April, in large part because of the culture of diversity the company was promoting.
"The culture Slack is building here, the people they have and the things that they say are important to them really resonate with me as a human being, not just as an African American," Miley told USA TODAY earlier this year.
Slack’s CEO, Stewart Butterfield, has pushed for the tech industry to be more inclusive, and the company even won a “Crunchie” award for “fastest rising start-up,” which was accepted by an all women-of-color team of engineers.