Diversity in Tech Companies
Over the past few months, tech companies have released their demographic numbers to the public. And it’s not pretty. While these diversity reports have made headlines their contents are old news: Silicon Valley tech is dominated by white and Asian males.
This string of disclosures is a response to growing public pressure for transparency. Many have challenged tech companies to release their demographic makeup, including publishers like CNNMoney in 2011 and more recently civil rights activist Jesse Jackson. Eventually, tech companies listened.
Google was the first company to come forward with its numbers, on May 28. Then LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Facebook all followed suit in June. After that, Twitter, Pinterest, and eBay released their numbers in July. Apple released its diversity report on August 14, months after CEO Tim Cook announced his intentions to do so. Last week Pandora became the latest tech company to release its employee statistics with a post from the company’s founder, Tim Westergren, on its LinkedIn page.
So just how bad is it? Here’s a look at the employees of today’s high-profile tech companies.
Of the companies mentioned, all track each other closely in terms of gender distribution. Across the company as a whole, Pandora nears an equal ratio of female to male employees, surpassing the national average. Google, Twitter, and Apple meanwhile have a 70/30 male/female split, the most imbalanced of the companies who have released demographic information.
On average, women make up about 36% of the workforce within these eight major companies. Compare that to the American workforce which consists of 47% women.
When it comes to the tech staff of these companies the gap becomes even more pronounced.
The numbers range from 24% female (eBay) to 10% female (Twitter). Pandora, which impressed with its overall gender balance, comes in with 18% female tech employees, falling squarely in the middle of the pack.
On average, only 17% of the tech workforce within these eight companies consists of women. That means the tech departments of these companies hire a lower percentage of women than are employed in the farming, fishing, and forestry industry.
But why? Many have argued that the problem lies in the failure of STEM education to attract women. Others point to the “brogrammer” culture at a number of tech companies that alienates women. With the recent onslaught of discrimination and harassment stories, the gender politics of tech have come to the fore/into the spotlight.
Along with gender, questions surrounding the racial breakdown of tech company employees have also gained prominence. All eight of the companies hire primarily white employees. All except Apple also have sizeable Asian populations, hovering around 30%. On average, their workforces are only 3% black and 4% Hispanic. Much like the gender gap in tech, the race gap deserves major attention from tech companies moving forward.
It’s worth noting that Pinterest only provided race data for its overall workforce, while every other company included subsets of data for other groups, like tech or leadership. Pinterest also did not provide data about multi-racial employees. Twitter included data about its American Indian/Alaska Native and, along with Pandora, its Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and employees. Since other companies did not provide numbers for these groups, we placed them in the “other” category. Apple also included an “undeclared” category, into which 9% of its employees self-identified.
Now that the numbers are out there, hopefully executives in tech companies will feel the pressure to improve them. In their statements, many of the companies highlighted their efforts to promote women and minorities by partnering with outside organization or raising funds for targeted education efforts.
In addition, they also provided some very similar soundbites:
We look forward to seeing what that work looks like in the future. For now, the release of company demographic data is just the first step towards achieving equality in the workplace.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing, Owler employs 83 men, and 26 women. The racial breakdown of our US office is 80% white and 20% Asian. Like the companies we’ve mentioned, we would love to hire more women and minorities and encounter many of the same issues that they do in making this goal a reality. As a small company we also have a smaller application pool but are always looking for smart, driven, and fun people. As Owler grows, we hope to build up a diverse workforce filled with talented minds from all different backgrounds.
This post was written by Summer Modelfino, 2014 Summer Intern in Marketing