Could a Lack of Diversity Undercut Silicon Valley?

Attendees view smartphones running the latest edition of Android software during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Google Inc. unveiled a new version of its Android software for smartphones and other devices as it battles Apple Inc. to be the foundation for mobile technology. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg ORG XMIT: 499376153 (Photo: David Paul Morris Bloomberg)
Attendees view smartphones running the latest edition of Android software during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Google Inc. unveiled a new version of its Android software for smartphones and other devices as it battles Apple Inc. to be the foundation for mobile technology. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg ORG XMIT: 499376153
(Photo: David Paul Morris Bloomberg)

The technology industry’s predominantly white and Asian male workforce is in danger of losing touch with the diverse nation — and world — that forms its customer base.

Recently released numbers from some of the largest and most powerful companies confirm what many had suspected: Opportunity here is not created equal.

Blacks and Hispanics are largely absent, and women are underrepresented in Silicon Valley — from giant companies to start-ups to venture capital firms.

The industry that bills itself as a meritocracy actually looks more like a “mirrortocracy,” says longtime high-tech entrepreneur Mitch Kapor, co-chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact.

Even as companies scramble to find workers in the most competitive hiring market in recent memory, most are continuing to bring aboard people who look like they do.

And that, Kapor says, could undercut Silicon Valley, which needs the best people and ideas to create the next Facebook or Google.

Eric Kelly is president and CEO of Overland Storage in San Jose, and chairman of Canadian-based Sphere 3D. He is also one of the few black CEOs of a publicly traded technology company. He says having managers and senior executives with differing perspectives gives companies like his an edge in the marketplace.

By 2040, the U.S. will be a minority majority, with 42% of the country black or Hispanic.

“I bet we’ll be able to do some really interesting business case studies in 10 years and see what companies did and didn’t make it — and who had the most diverse teams from top to bottom,” Kelly said.

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Source: USA Today | Jessica Guynn and Elizabeth Weise

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