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Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann Says He's Focused on Gender Diversity

Still, the company can do more.

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann has an interesting take on how to deal with the diversity problem in Silicon Valley.

“[Gender] is the place where we decided to start, even though diversity means a lot of things,” Silbermann said at Re/code’s second Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “As we grow we want to make sure we’re looking wide and far for the best people from lots of different backgrounds.”

The chief executive said that 40 percent of the overall company is women, and about 20 percent of the technical staff. He credited Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou as the instigator who pushed tech companies to start releasing their staffs’ demographic details. Before most startups had published their statistics, she pushed out the breakdown of Pinterest’s male and female engineers, with Silbermann’s permission.

“Some of the stuff we’ve done at Pinterest is a really good start,” he said, while admitting the number of women in leadership roles could improve.

The soft-spoken CEO faces large challenges for Pinterest*, chief among them making enough money to support its $11 billion valuation. In 2014, Pinterest slowly introduced advertising in the form of promoted pins. In recent months, it has developed more sophisticated advertising options, like animated pins and a multi-tiered pricing structure.

“An ad can be useful to help you take an inspiration and turn it into reality,” Silbermann said.

There are high hopes for Pinterest’s potential as an advertising channel. Its users spend time on Pinterest surfing pictures of things they might buy, from fashion to home decor to outdoor gear. Sources told Re/code earlier this year that Pinterest is developing a “buy” button so people can purchase what they’re pinning without leaving the application. Silbermann dodged the question of when the buy button would arrive.

* Pinterest executive Joanne Bradford is an independent board member of Re/code’s parent company, Revere Digital, and has no involvement in our editorial process.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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