How tech companies are using an NFL strategy to hire more women

In efforts to be more inclusive in hiring, the NFL implemented the Rooney Rule in 2003, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for all head coach and general manager positions. Since then, the rule has expanded to include other front office positions, and in February the NFL said it will also require teams to interview women for executive jobs. Tech companies have taken a page out of the NFL's playbook in an attempt to boost diversity in their offices, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Pinterest have implemented the Rooney Rule when seeking executive and leadership talent, specifically women leaders. Women representation in the tech industry is among the lowest of any industry across all levels of positions. Thirty-six percent of entry-level tech workers are women, and the only industries in which that percentage is lower is energy and basic materials, reports WSJ.

Proponents of the rule say it forces companies to consider candidates they may not have considered otherwise. Critics say the rule does not assess how many women are actually hired or how many women remain with the company. Some say it supports the idea that the main problem with hiring practices is simply that more diverse individuals aren't considered, according to the report.

The NFL had success with the Rooney Rule, as the number of black head coaches has increased since the rule was implemented, reports WSJ. But critics also question whether that is translatable to tech.

Freada Kapor Klein, a venture capitalist who co-founded Project Include, a group working to improve diversity in tech, said the Rooney Rule may have been successful in the NFL because the league "had racially diverse star players, just not head coaches. That analogy doesn't apply to tech."

Instead, Ms. Klein said tech companies should apply the rule to all positions in all levels to ensure diversity throughout company ranks.

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