Posted on May 4, 2018

The Congressional Black Caucus Says Some Silicon Valley Companies Have ‘Gone Backwards’ on Diversity

Shannon Liao, The Verge, May 3, 2018


[Rep. Barbara] Lee [D-CA)], who serves on the diversity task force as a co-chair, said to The Verge in a phone interview that some of the companies they visited this time had made “small progress” while “others have gone backwards.” She credited the drop in numbers to tech companies’ failure to retain employees of color, but she would not name specific companies that have done poorly. “Look at the numbers,” she said, referring to government-mandated public EEO-1 diversity numbers. (Here are 2017 numbers for Apple, Paypal, and Airbnb.)

“They haven’t really thought about racial inclusion until we started really focusing on this.”

{snip} “I’m not urging, I’m not encouraging. I’m about to hit some people across the head with a hammer.”

Numerous tech companies have presented dismal percentages in recent reports. For example, Uber reported late last month that its corporate workforce (excluding drivers and support contractors) consisted of 2.6 percent black employees in 2018, compared to 1 percent in 2017. Twitter reported having 3.4 percent black employees in 2017, compared to 3 percent in 2016.

Besides becoming more adamant that tech companies improve their workforce diversity, the CBC also added a new request this time: companies should help fund more affordable housing for communities in need and fight the effects of gentrification. {snip}


It’s a nuanced issue, and it’s complicated by factors like availability of entry-level tech jobs, the geography of where those jobs are located, and other barriers to entry in the industry like existing lack of diversity at startups and corporations that could impact workplace culture and lead to poor minority retention. There’s also the question of how policy makers can help people who may have the right education but have a felony record. Lee said that legislators would continue to work with groups, including STEM education funding for Merritt College in Oakland, California, on issues like these.