For years, tech companies have tried to diversity their workforces and create professional cultures more welcoming to underrepresented groups. Are those efforts succeeding? It’s hard to tell (especially given some organizations’ reluctance to release much internal demographic data or polling), but a new study suggests that some companies are doing far better than others when it comes to Black employees.
Glassdoor recently broke down its employer rankings by race/ethnicity. Of 28 employers with “at least 15 Black or African-American employee ratings,” stated its blog breakdown of the data, “only three were in the tech industry.” This is due, it continued, to the underrepresentation of Black employees at tech companies:
“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black and African Americans accounted for just 9 percent of workers in information technology occupations in 2019, despite making up nearly 13 percent of the U.S. workforce. Unfortunately, most major U.S. tech employers had insufficient data on Glassdoor from Black or African American employees to be included in our analysis at this time.”
Here’s Glassdoor’s breakdown of the top 10 companies where Black or African American employees reported higher rates of satisfaction, including tech firms:
It’s always a good month to talk about the tech industry’s diversity efforts and whether they’re actually effective at achieving companies’ stated goals of inclusion and equity. For the past few years, several of the biggest companies in tech have issued regular updates about their employees’ demographics—and it’s clear, based on all that data, that any progress in tech has been incremental.
Take Apple, for instance, which has very publicly made employee diversity a priority under CEO Tim Cook. When you look at the actual employee breakdowns, however, many of the percentages haven’t shifted very much between 2014 and 2018, the last year for which Apple offers figures:
It’s a similar story at other tech companies; at Google, for example, diversification has been similarly slow, despite the search-engine giant’s repeated claims that it’s doing everything in its power to expand its talent pipeline and internal teams to all kinds of employees, as well as reach pay equity. (That Google was recently hit with a $3.8-million-dollar fine over accusations of salary and hiring discrimination is a real blow toward that progress.)
But then there are the companies that have done little when it comes to diversification. According to last summer’s Dice Sentiment Survey, a majority of technologists said their companies had made internal and/or external gestures of support toward diversity movements—but a sizable number (roughly 40 percent) of companies had not.
When it comes to hiring and retention, companies are trying a number of different strategies, including some radical adjustments to the screening process, as well as better tools for locating talent of all backgrounds. Even as they implement lots of tactical solutions, however, companies also need to pay attention to whether their corporate cultures are truly welcoming to all groups. It’s clear, based on Glassdoor’s data, that a lot of companies have quite a bit of work to do on that front.