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On MLK Day: how much progress has tech made in diversity?

Companies have increased the number of women and minorities, but it has been a very slow process

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 16, 2017
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/48c6

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Diversity in the world of technology has been a hot topic for the last couple of years, as many looked to the one of this country's fastest growing industries and saw that it was overwhelmingly both white and male. In response, numerous companies pledged to help the situation through funding and hiring initatives, and rhey began to release reports on their racial and gender breakdowns to show their own lapses and progress. 

Monday is Martin Luther King Day and I believe it should not only be a day to celebrate a man who fought vigorously, and gave his life, for the cause of equality, but also to reflect on how we've come since then, and how much there is left to do. 

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the top companies in tech and, based on their own reports, see how far they've actually comes since first releasing their stats on diversity within their own ranks. 

Facebook

In its first diversity report, released in June 2014, Facebook was made of 69 percent men and only 31 percent were women.

The workforce was 57 percent white, and 34 percent Asian, with only 4 percent of it being Hispanic and 3 percent Black. When it came to only tech jobs, it was 85 percent men, 53 percent white and 41 percent Asian. 

The company released its most recent report in July of last year, showing that, overall, 52 percent of its workers were white, a drop of 5 percentage points, and the percentage of white tech workers was 48 percent. Unfortunately, those jobs seem to have gone to the only other group that was well represented already, with the percentage of Asian workers jumping to 46 percent, while the percentage of Hispanic and Black workers remained exactly the same.

Gender-wise, the company has made little progress: it's still 67 percent male, and 83 percent of tech workers are men.

That isn't to say that there has been no progress. Over the previous year, Facebook's new senior leadership hires at Facebook in the US had been 9 percent Black, 5 percent Hispanic and 29 percent women.

Facebook also revealed that it had donated $15 million to Code.org over the course of five years "to drive the development of curricula, public school teacher-training and student skills-building, particularly among traditionally underrepresented populations in engineering and computer science." 

Twitter

Twitter put out its first diversity report in July 2014, and the numbers weren't good: overall, the company was 70 percent men, and in tech position that number jumped to 90 percent. It also revealed itself to be 59 percent white in all jobs, and 58 percent white in tech jobs. 

In the summer of 2015, unveiled updated stats, with men making up 66 percent of all jobs, and 87 percent of tech jobs. The percentage of white workers overall stayed the same, while the percent in tech jobs dropped slightly to 56 percent. 

While progress was obviously slow, Twitter revealed diversity goals so that the makeup of the company would "reflect the vast range of people who use Twitter."

That included increasing women overall to 35%, women in tech roles to 16%, and women in leadership roles to 25 percent. The company also wanted to increase underrepresented minorities overall to 11 percent, increase underrepresented minorities in tech roles to 9%, and Increase underrepresented minorities in leadership roles to 6 percent.

It's hard to know if the company completed these goals, as Twitter delayed the release of its most recent diversity stats, which were supposed to come out in December. 

Google

Google's first report, released in May of 2014, showed the same gender number at Twitter: 70 percent men and 30 percent women. The company was 61 percent white, and 30 percent Asian. For some reason, unlike other companies, Google didn't break down their numbers by type of job, so we couldn't see how diversity affected its higher paid workers.

The numbers were most recently updated in June 2016, where it did reveal some of the numbers it had left out of its earlier report.

In two years, the percentage of women in tech had grown 2 percentage points, and women in leadership by 3 percentage points, not a very large increase in that time period. 

The company also revealed that, in 2015, "hiring for Black, Hispanic, and female Googlers grew faster than our current demographic representation for each of these groups." Hispanic workers in technical roles increased from 2 to 3 percent.

Today, Google is still 69 percent made up of men, and 59 percent white. 

Pinterest

Pinterest, despite being younger than any other company on this list, has actually been releasing its diversity stats longer. The first time came all the way back in October 2013, when engineer Tracy Chou revealed that Pinterest had 89 engineers, and only 11 of them were women, or 12 percent. 

In July 2015, the company revealed that the number of female employees grew from 40 percent to 42 percent over a year, while engineering interns increased from 32 percent to 36 percent female, and women engineers hired out of school increased from 28 percent to 33 percent. 

The company was 49 percent white, and 43 percent Asian, but only 2 percent Hispanic and 1 percent Black. Interestingly, in tech jobs, they were not majority white; in fact, only 60 percent were Asian. They were also 79 percent male. 

Leadership was 47 percent white and 42 percent Asian, and 84 percent male. 

The company outlined its goals for 2016: to increasing female engineers to 30 percent; to increase engineering roles to 8 percent of "underrepresented ethnic backgrounds." 

We can't know what whether or not the company achieved these goals since, like Twitter, the company delayed the release of its most recent diversity stats in December. 

“It’s not about hitting a number for the sake of doing so,” Candice Morgan, Pinterest’s head of diversity and inclusion, told the Wall Street Journal. “The goals are about fundamentally making progress towards doing our most innovative work.”

Amazon

Amazon released its report in late 2014, and the results were exactly as you'd expect them to be: overwhelmingly white and male, with 60 percent and 63 percent, respectively. However, unlike other companies, the rest of its workers were surprisingly diverse: 15 percent of its workers were black, 13 percent were Asian and 9 percent Hispanic.

Like Google, Amazon did not break these numbers down into what types of jobs each gender has in the company. Instead, they only reported on global managers. And the numbers were not good: 75 percent male, and 71 percent white. 

According to the latest stats, posted on its website, Amazon is now 61 percent male. In terms of racial diversity, somehow the company seems to have gone backwards: while it now stands at only 48 percent white, it grew to 21 percent Asian at the expensive of its black and Hispanic workers, who now each stand at 5 percent.

Global managers are now 75 male and 66 percent white. 

Apple

Like so many others, Apple released its first stats in 2014. They showed a company with 70 percent of its global workers being male. In the United States, Apple was 55 percent white, 15 percent, 11 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent black.

In leadership roles, Whites made up almost two-third, along with Asians at 21 percent. Together, Black and Hispanic workers made up less than 10 percent.

As of August 2016, Apple global workforce was 32 women, while women held 23 percent of technical positions, and 28 percent of leadership positions.

Its workforce in the U.S. was 56 percercent, 19 percent Asian, 12 percent Hispanic and 9 percent black.

Microsoft

In 2014, Microsoft's workforce was 60.6 percent white. 28.9 percent Asian, 5.1 percent Hispanic/Latino, 3.5 percent American/African Black, 1.2 percent multi-racial, .5 percent American Indian/Alaskan native and .3 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, according to stats released by the company.

The number of Microsoft senior executive women and minorities rose from 24 to 27 percent in the past year.

In 2016, according to the company's diversity website, overall employees were 73.3 percent male and 58 percent white. Microsoft also employees also consisted of 30.5 percent Asians, 5.5 percent Hispanic/Latino workers and 3.7 percent of them were black.

Tech jobs were 82 percent male and 54.2 percent white, and the numbers were 82 percent and 68.6 percent for leadership. 

So what do these numbers show? First, the fact that they are being released at all now shows the impact the conversation about diversity has had. Second, that progress is going to be very slow. Even if the numbers have gotten just a little better over the last two years, we can't take our eye off the ball in making the tech world more inclusive and diverse. 

(Image source: digital90210.com)


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