Tech Firms Top Minority Data Scientists’ Ideal Places to Work

If anything is certain about 2021, it’s that tech and finance companies want to hire more technologists from underrepresented groups, including for data science and data analytics jobs. However, it’s clear that some industries may struggle to attract this kind of specialized talent.

Correlation One, a quantitative assessment firm, surveyed over 8,000 students and young professionals across the U.S. who applied for its “Data Science for All” program, which is aimed at promising individuals from underrepresented groups. It asked them to nominate their top three dream employers. Their responses, shown in the table below, are perhaps a bit predictable: Tech firms such as Google topped the list, while finance and consulting firms comparatively struggled in the rankings.

JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs were the only banks nominated by Correlation One’s respondents… and they ranked 12th and 14th respectively. Barely more than two percent of candidates listed them as their preferred places to work. Compare that to Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, all of which did well (despite some well-publicized struggles over diversity and representation).

What’s so wrong with banks? Teneika Askew, an analytics leader at Mozilla who took the survey, said big banks just don’t have the same kudos as big tech firms. “Big tech companies can be considered the ‘I made it’ companies,” Askew said. “While I know the company has their own issues, they are also companies well known to have top perks and pay. If I get to a big tech company I can go anywhere from there…”

If you get a job with a big tech firm, you develop a network of people who are “considered the best of the best,” added Askew. “When you leave you want to work with the best of the best again (so you can build your network while you’re there).”

Vivian Richards, an intelligence professional who worked for the U.S. Army for two decades and who’s now looking to move into the private sector, suggests that big tech has the advantages of high pay and a broad portfolio of roles. “The harsh reality is that big tech, while still inflicted with pay inequalities, pays more than other firms,” Richards said. It also offers equity, which can be “critical in foundational wealth-building.”

It seems that banking simply doesn’t have the same high-pay appeal. Banks also don’t have the same prestige as tech firms for data scientists from underrepresented groups. Being able to say that you work for Google or Microsoft is similar to saying you attended a prestigious university like MIT or Harvard, said Jeremy Toussaint, a fellow on Correlation One’s program.

Plus, big tech firms also offer secure careers: “You know these big companies are more than likely here to stay,” Toussaint added.

You can see Correlation One’s full research here. A modified version of this article originally appeared in eFinancialCareers.