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There’s a Shocking Lack of Diversity in Silicon Valley

For all of its forward thinking, Silicon Valley has a shocking – and troubling – diversity issue.


Yesterday, the issue was brought to light in a lengthy piece in The Washington Post.

Last year, Facebook reported that it employed just 81 blacks among its 5,500 workers. Last week, Yahoo revealed that African-Americans made up just two per cent of its workers.

The trend continues throughout many Silicon Valley tech companies, highlighted in recent months as they’ve released their updated figures on their hiring of minorities. Until last year, Google, Apple and Facebook, among others, declined to disclose data on workforce diversity.

While the companies have recognized the cause for concern and have committed to improve, they say that not enough black and Hispanic students are pursuing computer science degrees.

However, fresh data shows that some of the country’s top schools are producing black and Hispanic tech graduates at rates much higher than they’re getting hired by the country’s leading tech companies.

According to a survey by the Computing Research Association of the 121 top U.S. and Canadian colleges, last year black students took home 4.1 per cent of bachelor’s degrees in computer science, information technology, and computer engineering. That figure is double the average number of blacks hired at the biggest tech firms.

As The Washington Post points out, the diversity issue isn’t just prevalent on the tech side of business in Silicon Valley. There’s also a lack of visible minorities for sales, marketing, and public relations jobs.

Case in point: blacks and Hispanics each accounted for just four per cent of Google’s non-tech-related workforce in 2014. At Facebook, blacks made up three per cent of its non-tech workforce in May, while Hispanics were at seven per cent. Asians are an exception, and are hired by tech firms at much higher rates than other minority groups.

When it comes to the overall U.S. workforce, blacks make up 13 per cent of employees, while Hispanics make up 16 per cent.

So, what are they doing about it?

Google, Facebook and Apple expanded the number of colleges for recruiting, venturing into historically black colleges. Facebook has also expanded its summer internship program for minority computer science majors, and introduced a new internship for minority business majors.

Especially in the face of increased scrutiny and backlash, we can only hope that further action is taken throughout the entire industry.

Image/graphic courtesy of Washington Post


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