Would it surprise you to learn that some of the largest companies in Silicon Valley and technology at large are disproportionately Caucasion? What about so diversity lacking it makes your average investment bank look like a Sesame Street? What about so goddamn white they’re working to cover it up? Well then! Do we have news for you:
So, each year every company with more than 100 people in their workforce has to tell the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission who they’re hiring and why. This helps to ensure that America isn’t racist or unfair, even though it is, but it’s one of the better (read: only) solutions we have to the problem, so, yeah.
Some reporters, like Julianne Pepitone of CNN Money, wanted to know what this information looks like for tech companies in Silicon Valley using the Freedom of Information Act, which allows us bastard reporters to find out things on official papers that should be public but aren’t because someone wants to keep them not public.
Guess what happened? The EEOC blocked it. They called it private data. Pepitone’s FOIA filing is still pending with the Department of Labor. Another reporter from the Mercury News tried to pull a fast one with this silly “race” issue thing on these companies last year, who responded in kind by lawyering up against this pesky reporter and his FOIA requests.
Some companies have actually handed this information over voluntarily. The good/transparent guys?
- Ingram Micro
- Cisco Systems
- Sun Microsystems
- and Intel.
Guess who didn’t hand it over?
- and Applied Materials.
And what can we learn from what little information we’re actually allowed to have on the matter?
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.
Mind you, that is data from a company that is okay with having their numbers out there because—their words—”relevant for the country and for our industry” because “companies can move the needle only by coming together and talking about it.”
Correct! And if Intel is willing to share their numbers—which by no means make Intel out to be The Electric Company—what can Apple, Google, and Netflix be hiding?
Probably nothing that would surprise anyone, and maybe something that’d have some people upset, but nothing that’d have anyone reading their iPhones the riot act.
But it’s the simple act of obsfuscating efforts to procure this information that not only makes them so obviously suspect, but inherently convicts them of a huge problem in the technology sector that will continue to remain a sore point of contention for many of its most important talent, which goes without mentioning the industry at-large: an unwillingness to discuss these issues, as if they don’t exist.
They do. Steve Jobs’ war against pornography didn’t make pornography go away, but did create a talking point for criticizing Steve Jobs’ fundamental views on censorship. In the same way, by brushing it under the rug, these tech companies are continuing to certify the legitimacy of a problem that (A) is beneficial to them to address and (B) will eventually come to a head, in a way beyond their control, that will be the opposite of beneficial to them. Why wait until we get there?