Bowing to increasing pressure on technology leaders to disclose details of their workforce diversity, Google says that just 30 percent of its employees are women, 3 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent are black. In technical roles, 60 percent of its employees are white and 17 percent are women.
The numbers are based on the 44,000 people working at Google at the beginning of the year, and don’t include those working for Motorola Mobility, which is being sold to Lenovo.
Google voluntarily released the information yesterday, which comes from a report filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Though all major employers are required to submit these reports, their contents are almost always kept confidential. Previously among tech leaders, only Intel shared its diversity numbers: In 2013, the chip-maker’s workforce was 76 percent male, 57 percent white, 29 percent Asian, 8 percent Hispanic and 3 percent black.
No one really disputes that women and minorities are under-represented in the technology workforce. For example, women make up 47 percent of American workers overall, but represent just 20 percent of all software developers. Eighty percent of American workers are white, 12 percent are black and 5 percent are Asian.
Companies say the lack of diversity reflects the pool of available talent and point out that they’ve undertaken a number of efforts to encourage more women and minorities to pursue STEM degrees. In a blog post, Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock notes that women earn only 18 percent of all computer science degrees in the U.S., and that blacks and Hispanics receive fewer than 5 percent. The solution to the diversity challenge, he says, is a long-term one that must focus on improving the pipeline.
As far as Google’s numbers go, Bock wrote, “Simply put, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity.”
Silicon Valley companies have long resisted efforts to get them to disclose their diversity numbers, arguing that the information is a competitive secret and so releasing it can hurt their business. However, according to the Associated Press, Facebook may be moving toward sharing its data. Some say Google’s move is a watershed moment that increases pressure on other firms to release their own numbers.
Lately, spurred by a number of increasingly vocal groups, discussions about tech’s diversity have been occurring more frequently. For example, the reverend Jesse Jackson has been leading a campaign to diversify the industry by meeting with executives and attending shareholder meetings at companies including Facebook, eBay, HP and Google.
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