The Race for Technology Company Diversity

Increasingly technology company diversity is in the public spotlight. Some of the most prominent technology companies in the country once again have made their diversity data public. The diversity statistics offer insight that, just a few years ago, was scarce in the tech world. A new culture of diversity transparency has emerged. It is a trend that extends from Amazon to Yahoo and includes Cisco, Intel, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and LinkedIn. In fact, the release of diversity data is serving as a catalyst. Now that the EEO statistics are there for all to see, technology companies seem more motivated than ever to become more diverse. The race for technology company diversity is on.

Technology Company Diversity
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What the Data Tell Us

Across every technology company, the EEO data confirm what many tech professionals already know to be true: there is little racial, ethnic and gender diversity within America’s tech giants. There’s even less diversity at the top among managers and senior executives. The utter irony is that the lack of diversity exists in one of the most progressive corporate cultures in the business world.

Diversity is Hard to Do

At most of the technology companies mentioned, the lack of diversity at the senior executive level is not for want of trying.  Most tech companies have invested heavily in diversity initiatives. For more than a decade, The Good Search has partnered with a number of technology companies on executive diversity initiatives. We have successfully recruited brilliant senior executives and technologists (who also happen to be diverse) into high profile leadership roles.

But work in diversity is a little like whack-a-mole.  Gains in one column can be offset by losses in another, such as the exits key diverse executives through attrition. Still, in recent years, valuable lessons have been learned and serious research is mounting on what actually does work to give diversity a boost, particularly at the C-Level. (McKinsey’s Diversity Matters by Vivian HuntDennis Layton, and Sara Prince is a must-read for any CEO seeking to increase leadership diversity.)

State of the State of Technology Company Diversity

Analysis of the most recent equal employment opportunity (EEO) data show that while none of the companies examined has achieved a diverse workplace, some are marginally more successful than others. Measured by the percentage of the overall staff who are women, LinkedIn rises to the top. Slightly more than 38 percent of LinkedIn’s employees are women. Since women make up half the workforce, that still means LinkedIn remains 24% away from gender parity.

Microsoft has made headway on its executive leadership team. Three of the 12 members of the executive team are women, including Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood.  Microsoft ‘s 2015 EEO data shows an overall workforce that is less than 24 percent female. Among the 155 employees Microsoft considers its leadership, 18 are women or fewer 12 percent of leaders.

Diverse Executive Supply and Demand

The demand for diverse executive talent is increasing, while the supply remains constrained. The very economics of it is resulting in a talent war for top performing diverse executives. Yet, many tech companies vying for experienced women executives find that many of the top contenders have chosen to leave the workforce altogether. The recruiting battles at technology companies that are fierce to begin with, have become even more fierce with the exist of some of technology’s most gifted women.

Google has captured two spots on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list for 2015, its CFO and the head of YouTube, even as its overall workforce is overall workforce is about 28 percent women.

When considering success in hiring black or African-American employees, Amazon is markedly better than other companies. More than 14 percent of Amazon’s employees are black.

CompanyEEO YearTotal EmployeesBlack
Percent Black
White
Percent White
AsianPercent AsianHispanic/LatinoPercent Hispanic/Latino
Amazon201477,17911,39214.8%46,15359.8%10,06113.0%6,7578.8%
Apple201572,4946,2848.7%43,10259.5%12,57417.3%8,52011.8%
Intel201453,7321,8903.5%30,03255.9%16,49230.7%4,4088.2%
Microsoft201559,7962,0873.5%35,64859.6%17,65029.5%3,1875.3%
Cisco201436,7961,2403.4%20,03354.4%13,26136.0%1,8305.0%
LinkedIn20144,235912.1%2,16651.1%1,69940.1%1824.3%
Google201432,5276281.9%19,80960.9%9,92430.5%1,4284.4%
Yahoo20157,3951271.7%3,54648.0%3,25444.0%2923.9%
Twitter20142,910491.7%1,76060.5%97033.3%682.3%
Facebook20145,479811.5%3,12957.1%1,87034.1%2143.9%

White and Male at the Top

The diversity gap exists — in fact, it is magnified — within the ranks of senior leadership at leading technology companies. While EEO data collections allow individual companies to define leadership, and those definitions vary to sometimes include managers and alternately include only top-level executives, it remains true that leadership remains even less diverse than overall workforces.

Google and Twitter count no Hispanic or Latino executives among their leadership teams; Amazon tallies one black leader on its team. In fact, seven of the 10 companies we’ve examined are at least three-quarters white.

At Apple, which reports 103 employees in leadership roles, more than 80 percent of leaders are white.

Apple Leadership Diversity

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% White

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% Asian

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% Black

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% Hispanic/Latino

EEO reports don’t require companies to list what roles people of color fill as leaders, but those employees at the highest levels — C suite executives — often are even more homogenous. At Apple, the top leaders are an all-white team. Apple lists one African-American vice president who also is a woman in a human-resources role.

Slow Growth

It’s difficult to say how quickly the tech industry should be reshaping their workforces to more accurately reflect a more diverse world, but what’s certain is that their employee diversity isn’t changing quickly. Take Twitter, where nearly 60 percent of employees are white and roughly one-third are Asian. Hispanic or Latino, black and employees who identify with two or more races make up the remaining 10 percent. 

Since Twitter first released its data, little has changed in a significant way. The attention brought by transparency has value.  It is prompting Twitter to rededicate itself to creating a more diverse workforce.

The release of equal employment opportunity data is serving as a catalyst for change. The EEO data has proven that technology companies are not as diverse as they say they want to be. That is bringing about political pressure for improvements from myriad stakeholders — employees, customers, politicians, and academics.  Becoming more diversity builds social capital with the stakeholders involved and it there’s a financial benefit a well. McKinsey & Co. research found that companies with greater gender equality and ethnic diversity are likely to outperform their less-diverse peers. 

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