Google: ‘Not Where We Want to Be’ on Diversity
Update, 12:30 p.m.: Google is winning plaudits for disclosing data on the diversity, or lack of diversity, in its U.S. workforce. As Martha Mendoza of the Associated Press reports (see the story below), no less a diversity campaigner than the Rev. Jesse Jackson praised the online search and advertising juggernaut for taking “the bold step” of making public the racial and gender breakdown of its staff.
The report, released Wednesday, shows that Google’s overall workforce in the United States is 70 percent male and 30 percent female. The racial/ethnic breakdown: 61 percent white, 30 percent Asian, 4 percent two or more races, 3 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black.
If you look just a little further into the numbers, though, the gender divide in what the company defines as its tech workforce is even more pronounced: 83 percent men and 17 percent women. The tech worker group is 60 percent white, 34 percent Asian, 2 percent Hispanic, 1 percent black, and 3 percent two or more races. Among “nontech” employees, the gender number is a nearly even split, 52 percent men and 48 percent women.
The statistics are derived from Google’s latest EEO-1 report to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Mother Jones — “Silicon Valley Firms Are Even Whiter and More Male Than You Thought” — has some cold data to dash on the warm welcome Google has gotten for making its numbers public.
MJ’s Josh Harkinson filed a Freedom of Information Act request for diversity data from 10 leading Silicon Valley firms: Apple, Google, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Intel, Gilead Sciences, eBay, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard and VMware. The numbers suggest that’s what’s true at Google is true throughout the Valley. They show whites make up 63 percent of the overall workforce at the 10 companies, Asians 25 percent, Hispanics 6 percent and blacks 4 percent. Males predominate, making up 70 percent of company personnel. Whites hold 83 percent of executive positions, the same percentage of males in top jobs.
Harkinson also includes a critique of the claim that the composition of the Silicon Valley workforce is just an example of merit at work:
Prominent techies like to say that the Valley is a pure meritocracy, but the glaring disparities make that a dubious claim. “In polite company, I would say it’s a fallacy,” says Laura Weidman Powers, the executive director of Code2040, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that promotes racial diversity in tech hiring. “In impolite company, I would say it’s bullshit.”
By Martha Mendoza
SAN JOSE — In a groundbreaking disclosure, Google has revealed how very white and male its workforce is — just 2 percent of its Google employees are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, and 30 percent are women. About a third of the company’s workforce is Asian.
The search giant said the transparency about its workforce is an important step toward change.
“Simply put, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity,” Google Inc. senior vice president Laszlo Bock wrote in a blog.
The numbers were compiled as part of a report that major U.S. employers must file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Companies are not required to make the information public.
The gender divide is based on the roughly 44,000 people Google employed throughout the world at the start of this year. The company didn’t factor about 4,000 workers at its Motorola Mobility division, which is being sold to China’s Lenovo Group for $2.9 billion. The racial data is limited to Google’s roughly 26,600 workers in the U.S as of August 2013.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg recently said the social networking company is headed toward disclosure as well, but it was important to share the data internally first.
Apple, Twitter and Microsoft did not respond immediately to queries about possible plans to disclose data.
Hewlett-Packard spokesman Michael Thacker said the firm, with 331,800 worldwide employees, has been publishing this data going back to 2001 as part of a Global Citizenship Report. In its most recent report, the company reported almost 7 percent of its U.S. workforce was black, 6 percent Hispanic and 33 percent were women.
‘We’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be. … Being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution.’— Laszlo Bock,
Google senior vice president
Bock said Google has been working to diversify, not just its offices but in the broader tech sector. Since 2010, the firm has given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls, he said.
The company also is working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate course work and attendance in computer science, he said.
“But we’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be, and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution,” he said.
Gender and ethnic disparities are reflected throughout the tech industry. About 7 percent of tech workers are black or Latino in Silicon Valley and nationally. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 percent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent Census data.
In the coming months, Google said, it will work with the Kapor Center for Social Impact, a group that uses information technology to close gender and ethnic gaps in the Silicon Valley workforce. The center will be organizing a Google-backed conference in California focusing on issues of technology and diversity.
Co-founder Freada Kapor Klein, who started the Level Playing Field Institute 13 years ago to teach and mentor black and Latino students in science and math, said Google is showing leadership “which has been sorely needed for a long time.”
“Google is the company known for the moonshot, and applying that part of Google DNA to this problem is a breath of fresh air,” she said.
Earlier this year, the Rev. Jesse Jackson launched a campaign to diversify Silicon Valley, asking to meet with leaders of several iconic technology companies about bringing black and Hispanics into their workforce and leadership.
Since then, he’s been leading delegations to annual shareholders’ meetings at firms including Google, Facebook, eBay Inc. and Hewlett-Packard.
On Wednesday Jackson said Google is to be commended.
“It’s a bold step in the right direction. We urge other companies to follow Google’s lead,” he said. “Silicon Valley and the tech industry have demonstrated an ability to solve the most challenging and complex problems in the world. Inclusion is a complex problem — if we put our collective minds together, we can solve that too.”
Iris Gardner, a manager at nonprofit Code2040, which places high-performing black and Latino software engineering students in internships with top tech companies, said Google’s disclosure could mark a pivotal moment in the push to diversify Silicon Valley.
“It is a big deal for them to be transparent about something that most companies haven’t in the past been willing to share,” she said.Related