The research and evidence have proven it time and time again. Companies with more diverse leadership and staff are more innovative and profitable than their competitors with lower diversity percentages. However, despite this truth the industry is still slow to increase the number of minorities in their ranks. In 2014 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recorded statistics on the percentage of minorities and women in the high tech sector and found that compared to overall private industry employment, the high tech sector employs a larger share of whites (63.5 percent to 68.5 percent), Asian Americans (5.8 percent to 14 percent) and men (52 percent to 64 percent), and a smaller share of African Americans (14.4 percent to 7.4 percent), Hispanics (13.9 percent to 8 percent) and women (48 percent to 36 percent).
In the 6 years since those statistics were recorded, the trend has improved slightly. Facebook’s technical workforce, for example, jumped from 15% female in 2014 to 23% at the beginning of 2019. However, black workers at Facebook only grew from 3% to 3.8% during that same period. Apple reports similar numbers, with a workforce that is 9% Black, but that number drops to 3% when looking at leadership roles. Its share of Black technical workers remained flat at 6% from the end of 2013 through the end of 2017, the last year Apple published diversity data. Amazon reported an 11 percentage point jump in minority employees, with a workforce that was 26.5% black at the start of 2019. However, the majority of its employees work in Amazon distribution centers, making it difficult to compare with its tech peers.
Last year in 2019 Google reported its largest increase in hiring Black tech employees in the U.S. in the company’s history. At Apple, 53% of new hires in the U.S. in 2019 were from historically underrepresented groups in tech. And while these statistics surely are an encouraging sign, very few companies have shown specifically how they plan to improve the diversity and inclusiveness at their organizations. Microsoft is one company that has been public about the specifics of their plan to address these issues.
Microsoft’s plan has 3 main goals:
- The first is to increase representation and to create a culture of inclusion in the organization. Microsoft plans to invest an additional $150 million into D&I and to double the number of Black managers, senior individual contributors and senior leaders by 2025.
- The second goal is to engage the company’s ecosystem to “extend the vision for societal change throughout our ecosystem” by creating new opportunities for suppliers and partners and their communities.
- The third goal is to “use the power of data, technology and partnership” to help improve the lives of Black citizens across the country and to address the safety and well-being of employees and their communities.
Google has released similar goals for their 5 year plan to increase diversity across the organization.
- First, Google has pledged to improve Black+ representation at senior levels by increasing minority representation by 30 percent by 2025.
- Second, Google’s CEO has created a task force to identify challenges with hiring, retention and promotion at all levels for underrepresented groups and how to improve the process for diverse candidates and employees.
- Third, they will work to identify corporate policies that have implicit bias by listening to Black Googler’s experiences and finding ways to ensure they feel safe in the workplace.
- Fourth, they will establish anti-racism educational programs that will scale globally, as well as mandated management training for diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Finally, the company will provide mental and physical health support benefits for minority workers.
Slack, the business communication platform has been very straight forward about their current diversity statistics and their plan to improve them. The company hired 624 employees in 2019, but stated that it saw only “incremental increases for women in leadership roles (director level or above) and underrepresented minorities in U.S. technical and leadership roles” along with a decrease of women managers, women in technical roles and a decrease of underrepresented minorities and LGBTQ managers in the U.S. Slack sees this as a trend that it is “taking very seriously and actively addressing.”. Minority employees at Slack are currently 14.5% of their US technical staff, 12% of their managers and 9.2% of their leadership team. Slack is also currently one of the only large tech companies in the US to differentiate between minority and LGBTQ staff in their diversity statistics. The company has partners with the non-profit organization Year Up to find diverse new candidates, as well as creating their own program called Slack for Good to increase the number of underrepresented individuals in the tech industry.
There are also many companies that have created internship programs specifically aimed at giving diverse young professionals experience with their organizations that often lead to full-time hires. For example, BlackRock has created the BlackRock Founders Scholarship, which is awarded to student leaders from underrepresented groups. Winning this prestigious award also lands you a spot in the company’s summer internship program. Deutsche Bank has the dbAchieve internship program, which is targeted to rising juniors with a diverse background to expose them to the industry.
There are also many companies that have started to recognize and reward staff for their efforts at increasing diversity in their organizations, such as Northern Trust, which has an annual award program that recognizes employees who champion diversity efforts, ongoing “diversity at work” training, and involvement with minority-focused business resource councils.