When most people think of Silicon Valley workplaces such as the gleaming corporate headquarters of Google, Twitter, Apple and Microsoft, they usually picture wide-open, imaginative places where workers from a diversity of backgrounds, cultures and countries collaboratively develop innovative and world-changing ideas and products.
But the recent admission by Google that its workforce isn’t nearly as diverse as people might believe has changed the way people think about the IT industry.
And new demographics of Google’s workforce — which were compiled by its total workforce management system – showed that things haven’t really gotten much better.
Pledging to Do Better
This has led Google and other IT giants to publicly pledge to increase the diversity of their workforce and to use workforce management software to create more transparency and accountability in their hiring for applicants, employees, stockholders and customers.
So will these companies, which many more traditional companies look to as leaders in creating diverse and creative work environments, be able to back up what they are promising? Only time will tell.
The Google Starting Point
Based on its own statistics, which were compiled by some of the best workforce management software money can buy, Google was appalling lacking in diversity. But progress has been made.
Google recently reported that 21% of all of its new hires were female and that the hiring of African American and Hispanic new employees was greater than the company’s overall hiring.
Based on the workforce management system report’s demographics, in January 2015, Google’s employees were made up of 70% men and 30% women. Of these, 60% of all Google employees were white, 2% were African-American, 3% were Hispanic, 31% were Asian, and less than 1% were something else, a category that includes such things as Polynesians and Native Americans.
Yahoo for Yahoo?
Over at Yahoo, the company recently was recognized by the group LGBT Equality as a “Best Place to Work”, as well as being honored by the Human Rights Campaign. Yahoo also receives a score of 100% on the Corporate Equality Index.
Still, the company’s 12,500 workers are 62% male. And they are 47% white, 2% African-American, 4% Hispanic, 43% Asian, and 3% other.
Over at Facebook, the diversity figures were a little better. In fact, they showed a somewhat less homogenous workforce among its 11,000 workers.
According to Facebook’s own demographics, the company’s workers are 68% men and 32% women. But of these, 55% were white, 2% African-American, 4% Hispanic, and 36% Asian. The Other category was so small that statistically it came out to 0%.
Facebook has publicly worked very hard to improve its diversity in the past year, with a 1% increase its global, overall female workforce year over year and a modest increase in the percentage of Asian workers it employees.
Still, the social media giant has a lot of work ahead of it, especially when it comes to hiring more African American workers. Based on its own figures, the percentage of black workers remained at only 2%, showing no growth year over year.
While Pinterest’s users may be mostly stay-at-home moms, its workforce obviously is more diverse than that.
In fact, surprisingly more than half of Pinterest employees – 58% to be exact – were men. Among its estimated 500 employees, 49% were white, only 1% African-American, 2% Hispanic, 43% Asian, and 1% something else.
Pinterest actually was one of the first companies to call for more diversity in hiring among Silicon Valley IT firms. Engineer Tracy Chou’s now-famous “Where are the numbers” blog post on Medium.com is often cited as one of the first admonitions to do better.
In July, the company laid out its hiring goals and plans for increasing diversity among its employees, including a number of new initiatives designed to attract a greater number of women and minorities.
Down the road at Dropbox, company executives also are struggling to find new ways to increase diversity. And not a moment too soon: The company was recently given as an example of how non-diverse Silicon Valley companies are in a well-publicized article in the International Business Times.
Just how bad are things at Dropbox? According to their own hiring figures, men account for 66% of all of the company’s 1,200 workers.
The company’s workers are 56%white, 1% African-American, 4% Hispanic, 31% Asian, and 5% other. Notably, 4% of workers identified themselves as being of two or more races.
The Bottom Line
So what does this all mean for diversity in Silicon Valley and, eventually, the nation as a whole? For one thing, at least IT companies are thinking and talking about diversity, which wasn’t the case only a few years ago.
And they are starting to take steps to correct past mistakes by making their workforces more diverse, which will only benefit the industry and, ultimately, consumers.