Internet giant faces diversity crisis

by Caitlin Nobes03 Jun 2014
As companies around the world struggle to improve their diversity records, Google just released its workforce data and admitted it needs to improve.
 
Just two per cent of “Googlers” are black, three per cent are Hispanic and 30% are women. The American population is 13% black and 17% Hispanic. Google is not alone in its diversity issues. Gender and ethnic disparities are common throughout the tech industry. About seven per cent of tech workers are black or Latino in Silicon Valley and nationally.
 
In a blog post this week, Google SVP Laszlo Bock said the company’s transparency, which is the first of its kind in the sector, is a step towards change.
 
“Simply put, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity,” Bock wrote.
 
The company is reportedly putting money where its mouth is by funding programs that encourage women and girls to learn computer science. The company also is working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science.
 
“But we’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be, and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution,” Brock said.
 
The company is also working with the Kapor Center for Social Impact, which uses information technology to close gender and ethnic gaps in the Silicon Valley workforce, to develop a conference in California focusing on issues of technology and diversity.
 
Co-founder Freada Kapor Klein said Google is showing leadership “which has been sorely needed for a long time.”
 
“Google is the company known for the moonshot, and applying that part of Google DNA to this problem is a breath of fresh air,” she said.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg recently said the social networking company is headed toward disclosure as well, but it was important to share the data internally first.

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