Silicon Valley: Blacks & Mexicans, Meh; LGBTQ, You Go, Girl!

The rest of the world has finally caught up to something I’ve been pointing out for years: Silicon Valley firms don’t think that legal and social norms about hiring blacks and Mexicans apply to them. So, the Valley is mounting a PR counteroffensive about whom they do hire.

From the New York Times’ “Fashion & Style” section (by the way, isn’t that stereotypical?):

FASHION & STYLE

Technology’s Rainbow Connection
Silicon Valley’s Embrace of the Gay and Lesbian Community
By MATT HABER JULY 18, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — If it weren’t for the one naked guy, the furries with their articulated ears and the small gaggle of leather-clad members of the Society of Janus, this city’s 44th annual Pride parade in June could have been easily be mistaken for a technology conference.

Notice how San Francisco doesn’t hold a “Gay Pride” parade anymore, just a “Pride” parade? Gay Pride Parades are transphobic, so the entire word “pride” must be imperialized, along with “pride’s” adjectival forms: e.g., in 10 or 20 years, “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” will imply to young people that the Battle of Guadalcanal was fought in pumps and ball gowns.

Every big company in the city and Silicon Valley — Netflix, Facebook, Google, Apple — each offering its own take on gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual pride, lined up along Spear Street before joining the one-mile parade route on Market Street.

Netflix’s contingent marched carrying a blown-up poster featuring the women of “Orange Is the New Black,”

Now that’s some Quality Television: I made it through 15, maybe even 20 minutes of that show …

with the slogan “Break Out the Pride.” The biotech giant Genentech’s group wore T-shirts proclaiming “Pride Is in Our Genes.” Facebook’s impossibly young employees wore shirts that announced “Pride Connects Us” and branded spectators with rubber stamps that read “Like,” with the familiar thumbs-up icon.

And cannily tapping into both L.G.B.T. pride and World Cup fever was Google, whose hundreds of gay and lesbian employees (internally known as Gayglers) and their allies marched beside a glittering soccer-ball float while clapping thunder sticks and wearing soccer jerseys promoting YouTube’s #ProudToPlay campaign.

It’s almost as if all this LGBT stuff gives Silicon Valley giants an excuse to hire white people in the name of diversity. If Jesse Jackson wants to shake down Silicon Valley, he’ll need to put on a little black dress. And that’s probably not going to happen, so what are you going to do?

Looking at the elated faces in the crowd, many stamped with that Facebook “Like,” it almost seemed as if the tech industry and the gay communities in San Francisco had merged in a kind of ecstatically branded, hashtag-enabled celebration of shared ascendancy.

But, The Enemy remains at large:

Brogrammer

And yet, for all these public strides, insiders say the culture has yet to fully transcend its frat-boy programmer reputation. Perhaps that is why companies like Facebook are aggressively recruiting and supporting L.G.B.T. employees and offering what Sara Sperling, its senior manager of diversity, calls “unconscious bias training.”

… In April, Brendan Eich stepped down as chief executive of Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, after his opposition to same-sex marriage was revealed. Mr. Eich’s ouster opened up a debate about whether the tech industry, long considered a bastion of live-and-let-live libertarianism, continues to be a hospitable for everyone in its current sudsy incarnation.

In other words, Eich should have been burned at the stake a long time ago.

Social media companies like Snapchat and Tinder have been bedeviled by leaks and lawsuits painting their executives as immature and fratlike. The epithet “brogrammer” is thrown around to describe the loutish behavior sometimes exhibited by young, moneyed tech workers, and some gays and lesbians find the culture around tech less than comfortable.

“You see this young bro culture emerging,” said Sean Howell, founder of Hornet, a gay social networking app. “When you go to an event, you see all the bro dudes in one corner, all the geeks in one spot. You also see this rising group of gay people. Which makes networking easier.”

Mr. Howell, 34, sees more “cluelessness” than homophobia, noting, for example, “shock that a colleague might be gay.”

“They have no idea how to be politically correct or value diversity,” Mr. Howell said of some tech workers he’s encountered. “It’s just un-self-aware geek culture.”

“When I go to women’s event, it’s very heterosexual,” said Leanne Pittsford, a founder of Lesbians Who Tech, a national organization dedicated to supporting and connecting gay women and their allies working within technology.

“When there’s a panel of women and they talk about ‘Lean In’ and Sheryl Sandberg, and they talk about their husbands and how he should be supportive. That’s outside of lesbians’ experiences.”

Leah Neanderthal

Ms. Pittsford, 33, is heartened by some of the changes she’s seeing, many brought on by groups like the one she started in 2012 with Leah Neaderthal [?], her former partner. As she spoke, Ms. Pittsford was in Washington, where she was participating in the White House LGBT Innovation Summit, which she tweeted about with the hashtag #bestsummitever. “Literally, this is the most diverse event, L.G.B.T. or tech,” she said. “There’s so much overlap. It’s all about bringing people together.”

The late Lou Reed

“Things have changed so much,” said Kara Swisher, founder and editor of Re/code, a tech industry news site. Ms. Swisher, 51, and recently separated from Megan Smith, a vice president of Google[x], speaks often at gay- and lesbian-themed tech events, including the first Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco.