In the past year, Twitter has made plenty of headlines for its problems with employee diversity, as has Silicon Valley as a whole. Jack Dorsey, its co-founder and CEO, opened up about the lack of blacks and Hispanics in the innovation economy, in remarks Friday at the National Society of Black Engineers's annual conference. 

"The only way we're going to be creative is if we have perspective from all over," Dorsey, who is also the co-founder and CEO of Square, told a packed room of attendees.

There is a "critical need" to build a place where "people feel like they have a voice and an impact and are included in decisions," Dorsey said.  "We're not going to be creative and we're not going to be relevant unless we're inclusive."

So how did Twitter come to be a place where, until recently, diversity was not a major point of emphasis? (According to Twitter's 2014 diversity report, only 2 percent of employees were black and 3 percent were Latino.) Dorsey explained: "If you just look at startups, typically when you start you start with people you know," he said. "Then growth takes over. And it hides things, sometimes." 

At some point at both Twitter and Square, Dorsey added, "you just realize that it's only people I know, instead of people who are really going to add a new dimension to my work. Whenever you start something, that's the natural bias. How do you unseat it? First you acknowledge it. You recognize it. Then you change it." 

At both Twitter and Square, employees and interns now go through unconscious bias training, he said. In addition, Twitter's diversity goals in the U.S. include boosting the employee count of underrepresented minorities from 10 percent to 11 percent overall and from seven percent to nine percent in tech positions.

Topical and timely as the diversity subject was, it was far from the only topic Dorsey discussed.

Dorsey also shared how he remains productive--and creative--while helming two fast-growing companies at the same time. He credited his routine and consistent scheduling of meetings. He begins each week by reviewing the previous week with his top team. Then he shifts into a discussion of the current week's expectations. On Wednesdays and Fridays, he checks in with his top team about whatever expectations they discussed at the start of the week. A key question in all of his discussions is this: "What are we not talking about?"  

Dorsey finished the question-and-answer session by taking questions from the crowd via Twitter, using the hashtag #NSBEAskJack. One attendee asked Dorsey about how to get in the door at Twitter or Square. "The first question I ask," said Dorsey, "is, 'Why Twitter?' or 'Why Square?' And sometimes the answer I get is, 'Well, I had an interview scheduled.' And that's the wrong answer. The right answer is, I use this every day. And here are the all the ways you're screwing it up. And here's how I can fix it.'"

Published on: Mar 25, 2016