Posted on November 10, 2011

Silicon Valley Fights to Keep Its Diversity Data Secret

Julianne Pepitone, CNN Money, November 9, 2011

How diverse are Silicon Valley’s offices and executive suites? Activists have been trying for years to answer that question, but some of the industry’s largest and most influential employers–including Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook–closely guard that information.

Every U.S. company with more than 100 employees is required to file a one-page form each year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an independent federal agency. Called the EEO-1, the form categorizes U.S. workers by their race and gender.

It’s a blunt and imperfect measurement tool, but it’s also the only hard data available for tracking the diversity of corporate America.

CNNMoney filed a Freedom of Information request in August seeking EEO-1 data from 20 companies: The tech industry’s 10 biggest firms by annual sales and 10 smaller but influential firms, including Facebook and Twitter. The EEOC denied the request in full, saying it is legally prohibited from releasing that information. CNNMoney later filed the same request with the Department of Labor, and is awaiting a response.

We also asked all 20 companies to voluntarily release parts of their most recent EEO-1 report. Three companies agreed to do so: Dell, Ingram Micro (IM, Fortune 500) and Intel. (Click here for a look at the data from each company.)

Intel (INTC, Fortune 500), which posts its workforce data annually on its website, reflects the tech industry’s typical demographic skew: Its roster of nearly 44,000 U.S. workers is overwhelmingly male and mostly white.

Among American adults age 25 to 64–typically considered the working-age population–around 11% are African-American, but black workers account for just 3.5% of Intel’s domestic workforce and 1.3% of its top officials. Hispanics are similarly under-represented: They make up nearly 15% of the American workforce, but only 8% of Intel’s workforce and 3% of its management ranks.

In contrast, Asian workers–a category that includes those of Indian descent–have made strong inroads in the tech industry. They account for less than 5% of the U.S. working population but hold nearly 20% of the jobs at the companies CNNMoney surveyed.

Dell’s (DELL, Fortune 500) data tells a similar story. More than 80% of the company’s workforce is white or Asian. Dell’s top management, which includes 137 executives, has no Hispanics and only one black official.


{snip} Microsoft refused to release its workforce demographic data. Sixteen other companies contacted repeatedly by CNNMoney also declined or ignored our request: Apple, Amazon, Cisco, eBay, Facebook, Google, Groupon, Hewlett-Packard, Hulu, IBM, LinkedIn, LivingSocial, Netflix, Twitter, Yelp and Zynga.

“Every company talks about their lovely diversity programs . . . but they won’t give us their data,” says Aditi Mohapatra, senior sustainability analyst at Calvert Investments, which invests in socially responsible companies andc onducts its own diversity research. “What gets measured, gets managed. We need something tangible and public.”


“The companies try to make so many excuses,” says Yolanda Lewis, chief deputy of the Black Economic Council. “The ‘trade secrets’ defense is completely ridiculous, and in any case, how long can that be valid? Give us data from several years ago, then.”