From the NYT
Behind Silicon Valley’s Self-Critical Tone on Diversity, a Lack of Progress
By MIKE ISAAC JUNE 28, 2015When Facebook released its workplace diversity numbers on Thursday, the company included a somewhat heartening message.“It’s clear to all of us that we still aren’t where we want to be,” Maxine Williams, Facebook’s global head of diversity, wrote. “There’s more work to do.”But it was almost exactly the same thing Ms. Williams said year ago. “We have more work to do — a lot more,” she wrote in 2014. …At Facebook, the share of Hispanic employees in the United States remained flat, at 4 percent, just as it did for blacks, at 2 percent, the company said in its report last week. In 2013, Facebook hired just seven black employees out of an overall increase of more than 1,200, according to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filing last year. Those who identify as white account for 55 percent of Facebook’s employees in the United States, while Asians represent 36 percent.Google’s employee base is 60 percent white and 31 percent Asian, with blacks making up 2 percent and Hispanics 3 percent. Those numbers are unchanged from Google’s 2014 report. …“We are going against hundreds of years of historical inequity,” Ms. Williams said in an interview over the weekend. “All of our investments will take years to pay off.” …Tech companies say that greatly increasing the diversity of their work forces cannot happen overnight because the pipeline of qualified candidates is not very diverse. Hispanics, for instance, make up 7 percent of the student population of the 193 most selective colleges, according to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, while blacks make up just 2 percent. Engineering graduates also tend to skew largely white and male.But civil rights advocates say that is hardly an excuse for a lack of diversity companywide.… The limited progress has left advocates for greater diversity pushing hard for more. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and a regular attendee of annual shareholders’ meetings at many tech companies, including Facebook and Google, frequently notes the disconnect between the companies’ statements and outcomes. …Some companies are trying to prove that diversity is a priority by backing up their promises with money. Intel and Google have pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years to improve the diversity of their work forces, while aiming to attract more women and minorities to the technology field in general. …“If these companies can create self-driving cars and bring Internet to the entire world, it’s not that hard to hire more than one black woman per year,” said Catherine Bracy, director of community organizing at Code for America, a nonprofit that promotes the use of technology and design in the public sector.
Everybody obsesses over blacks, of course, because That’s What We Do, but when you stop and think about it, it’s remarkable how little California’s two premiere industries — Silicon Valley and Hollywood — rely upon California’s 15 million Hispanics. We keep getting told that illegal immigration is crucial to the economy, but California’s two world-beating industries barely employ any Hispanics, even unto the seventh generation.