Sunday, August 24, 2014

Insights on Silicon Valley's Diversity Problem

Silicon Valley's diversity problem has now been publicly acknowledged by no less than the giant tech companies themselves: Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Linked In, Facebook, among others. Each of these tech companies has low diversity numbers, and may indicate they are having a tough time reaching out to the diversity communities.

With the technology sector fueling the U.S. economy, the low rate of participation in high tech also threatens to drive up the unemployment rate for blacks and Hispanics, which is already three times the national average. Computer science jobs are the fastest growing and command the highest salaries. Yet just one in 14 technical employees in Silicon Valley is black or Hispanic. - See more at:

It is reported that EBay is officially more diverse than other tech giants who have so far released their hiring statistics. Its newly released diversity report shows the company is leading the industry with more women in leadership roles and whites making up the minority in tech jobs.

However, lack of gender diverity marks Silicon Valley's reputation.

Silicon Valley has "been a bastion of sexism," says Vivek Wadhwa, a fierce critic of the valley's white male-dominated culture and author of the forthcoming book Innovating Women. The young boys network is alive and thriving not just among not engineers, but also among executives who run tech companies and the venture capitalists who fund them. "It is a self-perpetuating cycle of those in a small network that is passed from generation to generation," says Derecka Mehrens, executive director of Working Partnerhips USA, a nonprofit community-based organization in San Jose, and according to Jon Swartz, (USA TODAY), who wrote this article, Tech has had a decidedly white male look for a reason: It has been very slow to embrace diversity. - Read more here:

Many attribute the low diversity numbers in Silicon Valley to unconscious biases that affect hiring and promotion decisions. Other say the diversity issues in the tech industry may be due to the fact that only few minorities choose a course of study that would enable them to get into the STEM field, as also revealed by a study published by the U.S. Census Bureau, Disparities in STEM Employment by Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin.

The New York Times reported on a 2012 Yale University study that found that bias against women still exists in American universities. Science professors widely consider female undergraduates who have similiar accomplishments and skills less competent than their male peers. This bias means that female students are deemed less worthy of hiring, mentoring, being promoted or compensated adequately when they do get a job. - See more at:

Still many believe Silicon Valley's problem with diversity can be overcome.

So what should these companies do? A good beginning would be to set up a diversity council that includes key people from within the company plus outside voices with expertise on recruitment, retention and education. Then, the companies need to follow their own recommendations and implement those programs, not just fall back on the old boys’ network. Read more at:

One article offers some ways for tech giants to create greater workforce diversity, and among that is to “show up,” and get involved with the people you sponsor, people who don’t look like you, Just like job seekers network to make connections and get job leads, companies like Google should encourage employees to do the same thing through volunteer work. 

In addition, board membership and top-level management should be diversified and recruitment practices for employees can be more inclusive. Diversifying the tech workforce will not only boost the bottom line, but also provide African-American, Latino and female students with success stories in a field largely devoid of role models. Read more at:

The best way yet for tech companies at Silicon Valley to improve their workforce diversity is to network and touch base with the diversity population through diversity job boards like
the simple fact that fewer minorities choose a course of study which

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