In 2014, leading technology companies released data showing they vastly underemploy African Americans and Hispanics. Those groups make up 5% of the companies workforce, compared to 14% nationally.
Company personnel leaders — many with titles such as director of diversity and inclusion — admit they have work to do but often cite a “pipeline problem” as a key factor in their inability to hire more computer scientists of color.
But a USA TODAY analysis of employment documents submitted by Facebook, Google and Yahoo to the federal government reveals that minorities are also sharply underrepresented in non-technical jobs such as sales and administration, with African Americans faring noticeably worse than Hispanics.
For example, Hispanics make up 5% of college-educated officials and managers nationwide, 4% at Yahoo and even less at Facebook and Google. African Americans make up 6% of officials and managers nationally, but 2% or less at these three tech giants.
Black and Hispanic professionals — a broad category that includes lawyers, accountants, marketers and computer scientists — make up 5% of all professionals at Facebook, Google and Yahoo but 13% of college-educated professionals nationwide.
“The data tells the whole story,” says Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose Rainbow PUSH coalition has pressed Silicon Valley companies to face up to their diversity problem. “There are talented blacks and Latinos who can fill well-paying non-tech jobs in the tech industry. Let’s not limit the debate to computer science and engineering positions.”
Kara Smith, 36, has an MBA from Northwestern University and is a product manager at Xtime, a Redwood Shores, Calif., company bought by Cox Automotive last month for $326 million in cash. She says she’s gotten used to being one of the few black people in the room.
“If you are going to feel intimidated by that, this is probably not the industry for you,” Smith said. “Do I think this leaves me behind sometimes or that I am not reaching my full potential? Possibly. But I try not to focus on it.”
Erin Teague, an African-American engineer and director of product management at Yahoo, says the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley is a deterrent to many of her talented peers of color.
“I have friends who say, ‘I can move to New York and work at an amazing company or I can move to Silicon Valley and work at an amazing company, but in New York I will have a network, I’ll have friends,’ ” she says.
SOURCE: Jessica Guynn, Paul Overberg, Marco della Cava and Jon Swartz