Facebook and Google Agree that a Diverse Workforce Is Key to Survival

USA TODAY/Stanford's panel discussion on diversity in tech included (from left to right) moderator and USA TODAY editor Dave Callaway, Stanford law professor Richard Thompson Ford, Vyv founder Laura Gomez, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Nancy Lee of Google and Maxine Williams of Facebook. (Photo: Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY)
USA TODAY/Stanford’s panel discussion on diversity in tech included (from left to right) moderator and USA TODAY editor Dave Callaway, Stanford law professor Richard Thompson Ford, Vyv founder Laura Gomez, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Nancy Lee of Google and Maxine Williams of Facebook.
(Photo: Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY)

Silicon Valley isn’t home to unrepentant bigots who want to keep minorities out of tech as much as it is a place with a word of mouth culture where hiring has bred a largely white male workforce.

That was one of the many themes at USA TODAY’s panel on diversity in tech organized in association with Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance Thursday, featuring representatives from Google and Facebook as well as the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“Most of the problems will be resolved by trying to get hiring managers to see diversity as a positive goal, but in many ways that’s a harder problem to solve than one of unrepentant bigots,” said Richard Thompson Ford, Stanford law professor and author of The Race Card.

Ford said that universities contribute to the problem when computer science classrooms feel like alien places for many minorities.

“Will you find racists in computer science department? No, but you may find people with preconceived ideas of who will be good or not (in tech),” he says. “There’s a culture that exists in those departments, one of who helps who. And if you’re not comfortable, maybe you go, ‘I could do something else, I’ve got options.'”

While African-Americans and Hispanics are roughly 11% and 15% of America, they are about 1% of tech company rosters, according to diversity numbers released over the course of the year.

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Source: USA Today | Marco della Cava

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