Google, Apple, Uber and other Silicon Valley tech firms cough up diversity numbers, and it’s not pretty

So, perhaps you’d like to know exactly how white and male Silicon Valley tech firms are.

Sorry, that’s a secret.

But nearly two dozen Bay Area technology firms have voluntarily broken the cone of silence around the lack of diversity in their industry. And they deserve some credit, because it’s not a pretty picture.

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Every year, companies with 100 or more employees must submit to the federal government an “EEO-1” form that breaks down workforce data by race, gender and job category. But although Uncle Sam collects those reports, he declines to share them with the taxpaying public.

In order to pry open some kind of window into that black hole of hidden embarrassments (and possible liabilities), the Center for Investigative Reporting’s “Reveal” project asked for the reports from 211 of “the biggest San Francisco Bay Area-based tech companies,” the center said Oct. 19.

As might be expected, the vast majority of firms declined to play the game. But 23 companies agreed, though one later said the data it provided may have been wrong.

Among the companies providing data were several of the valley’s best known: Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Lyft, Nvidia, HP, Uber, Cisco, Salesforce, Airbnb and eBay.

“For tech firms that did disclose, the numbers were particularly stark for executives,” according to the Reveal report issued Oct. 19.

“Twitter, Square and 23andMe did not report a single black, Latino or multiracial executive in 2016. Female executives who were black, Latina or multiracial were nonexistent at eight of the 23 companies, including Adobe Systems, Google and Lyft.”

In the “professional” jobs category, “Google and Apple had some of the lowest proportions of women, with 25 percent or less,” according to the report.

“Nvidia sat at the bottom, with 16 percent. For all of the firms, the vast majority of female professionals – 80 percent or more – were white and Asian.”

For black professionals, Hewlett Packard Enterprise came out on top, with 6.4 percent, with Apple trailing far behind at 1.7 percent and eBay at a fraction of 1 percent, Reveal reported.

“The online auction company also had the lowest proportion of Latino professionals,” according to the report.

Between the Bay Area’s two ride-hailing giants, Lyft had a far higher share of professionals from underrepresented minorities, with 14.2 percent, compared to 8.7 percent at Uber, Reveal reported.

The nearly 200 area companies that declined to give their reports to Reveal may have had good reason, the report suggested.

Former defense lawyer and now speaker on gender diversity Pat Gillette told Reveal some firms may have balked at disclosing the data out of fear of lawsuits.

“They feel like if they put it out there, they open themselves up to potential class actions based on the numbers,” she said, “which probably means they have a problem.”


Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook watches as members of the media check out the new MacBook Pro at a press event held at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)


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  • Lafayette Escadrill

    It’s not Silicon Valley’s fault that there are few black professionals. If more blacks took hard subjects in school and graduated, then there would be more blacks in the tech field. i remember years ago, blacks were complaining because there was a disproportionate number of asians entering UC Berkeley. The reason they were getting in was because they studied.

  • Sheng Long

    The media combines Asian-Americans with whites to shows how undiverse tech is. Seriously. Can anyone give me another example of a minority group being lumped with whites to show how minorities are being shut out of an employment sector?

    This “tech is not diverse” is fake news.

  • Jake Fontaine

    Question: exactly how does possessing whatever demographic quotas constitute “diversity” increase a tech company’s ability produce its products and/or services? Does it improve software reliability and maintainability if coders from 10 different socioethnic groups write it vs. one or two groups? Are there mathematical and applied physics concepts known only to non-white, non-Asian females?

    All companies (including tech firms) should be able to hire whomever they consider the best employees for the job without regard to artificial concepts like diversity.