In the last 12 months, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to the lack of diversity in the tech sector. There are few places in America more white and male than Silicon Valley, and increasingly, companies are feeling the public pressure to do something about that. So far, though, it doesn’t appear that they’ve made much progress. The Washington Post just shined a bright light on Google’s annual diversity report, and the numbers show that the tech behemoth still has a long way to go.
Parent company Alphabet, which has roughly 85,000 employees worldwide primarily at Google, revealed that Google’s global workforce is 69.1 percent men and 30.9 percent women, which represents virtually no change from a year ago. Only 2.5 percent of the company’s staff is African-American or black, while 3.6 percent identified as Latinx. Each of these figures represents an increase of 0.1 percent over 2017—modest progress at best.
“The data in this report shows that despite significant effort, and some pockets of success, we need to do more to achieve our desired diversity and inclusion outcomes,” Google said in its report.
“In order to achieve our desired outcomes, we need to do more,” added Danielle Brown, Google’s vice president and chief diversity officer. “We are really committed to that.”
The debate over diversity in Silicon Valley picked up in mid-2017, when one employee’s internal memo claimed that “genetic differences” were “why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.” The writer of the memo was fired, and Google moved quickly to make diversity a greater priority. Brown launched a new strategy, which included reviewing representation data every two weeks.
Simply studying the numbers won’t be enough, though. Google is up against a multi-faceted problem. Not only has the company been sluggish to hire women and people of color, but it’s had trouble keeping them as well. Google’s latest diversity report included information on not just hiring, but attrition as well. One alarming finding was that attrition rates were highest among black and Latinx employees.
It will be tough for Silicon Valley to find diversity in the years ahead, but it will be just as difficult to hold onto it.