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techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

White men dominate Silicon ValleyTen large technology companies in Silicon Valley did not employ a single blackwoman in 2016. Three had no black employees at all. Six did not have a singlefemale executive.In stark contrast, women outnumbered men in the executive ranks of two SiliconValley companies, and at another firm, nearly a third of executives were womenof color.A first-of-its kind analysis of 177 of the largest San Francisco Bay Area techfirms by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that whileracial and gender disparities are grave, many companies haven’t been held backby conventional excuses.Prominent tech companies often say they are trying to improve, but hiringdiverse staff is difficult. Facebook has blamed a lack of qualified minoritycandidates.“It has become clear that at the most fundamental level, appropriaterepresentation in technology or any other industry will depend upon morepeople having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the publiceducation system,” its chief diversity officer, Maxine Williams, wrote in2016.For that same year, Reveal’s data shows that a majority of large techcompanies headquartered in Silicon Valley – 91 of them – had a higherpercentage of black, Latino and multiracial employees among their ranks ofexecutives, managers and professionals than Facebook. That includedpowerhouses such as Intel and the two firms that used to make up Hewlett-Packard: HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison said the company has recruited students ofcolor with specialized training programs, including an engineer-in-residenceprogram at historically black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions.“We understand we need to create real training opportunities for students thatbuild on their academic experience,” Harrison said in an email.Facebook is among a handful of firms that have erred on the side oftransparency by routinely releasing diversity data. Identifying other techleaders and stragglers is difficult – even though the numbers are reported tothe government annually.### More Silicon Valley Diversity coverageThe U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity commission collects data on race, genderand job category for every company in the United States with more than 100employees, but it keeps the information confidential.Last fall, Reveal asked the largest tech companies based in Silicon Valley toshare their one-page, federally mandated forms, known as EEO-1 reports.After Reveal’s initial report, Slack and PayPal released their EEO-1 reportsfor the first time. Reveal obtained forms from electronics manufacturerSanmina and data services firm NetApp through Freedom of Information Actrequests. Besides Facebook, some other tech giants – including Google, Appleand Intel – regularly publish theirs.In all, the data is public for only 26 firms for 2016.But a collaboration between Reveal and the Center for Employment Equity at theUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst offers the most detailed picture ever ofthe entire field and allows those that are public to be compared with alltheir peers. The equity center, after a confidentiality review by the EqualEmployment Opportunity Commission, provided Reveal with anonymized statisticsfor 177 companies. Reveal and the equity center then independently analyzedthe data.When it comes to diversity, companies often want to shift responsibility toothers, according to Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, a sociology professor at theUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Employment Equity.“This is not something they do for any other part of the production process,”he said.## Disparities particularly stark at leadership levelNearly a third of the firms in Reveal’s analysis, including two that have madetheir statistics public – Lyft and Square – had no executives who were womenof color.And the number of black executives is so low that having any at all catapultedcompanies to the top of the rankings. Three of 36 executives at NetApp wereblack, for instance, but that’s 8 percent, making it the second highest amonglarge tech firms. Adobe Systems, a larger company, had almost three times thenumber of executives of NetApp, but none were black in 2016, according to itsEEO-1 report.Among companies that shared their data publicly, only Facebook had more than10 black executives.Nvidia ranked in the bottom four of the 177 large tech companies for genderrepresentation. The venerable chipmaker – whose stock price has increased morethan tenfold in the last three years with its advances in artificialintelligence, cryptocurrency, self-driving cars and virtual reality – had alower percentage of women than its direct competitor, Intel. Nvidia’sworkforce was 17 percent women, while Intel’s was 26 percent. Reached byemail, Nvidia declined multiple requests to discuss its record.Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang delivers a speech during the Computex Taipeiexhibition in Taiwan in 2017. His company ranked in the bottom four of 177large Silicon Valley tech companies for its workforce’s gender representation.Credit: Chiang Ying-ying/Associated PressThree companies had even lower representation of women than Nvidia, however,including the smart-glass manufacturer View. The other two are among thosethat keep their diversity statistics anonymous.And while both Nvidia and online retail giant eBay had a high proportion ofAsian professionals, such as analysts, designers and engineers, they employedamong the lowest percentages of black, Latino and multiracial professionals.## A gradual cultural shiftGenetic testing company 23andMe had one of the highest percentages of femaleexecutives, ranking third.The Mountain View-based company joined PayPal, Airbnb and financial servicessoftware firm Intuit in employing large numbers of women as executives andmanagers – more than 40 percent, far higher than the average of 28 percent atlarge tech companies.At the helm of 23andMe is one of Silicon Valley’s few female CEOs, AnneWojcicki. Having a female co-founder and CEO has been helpful, said MarkLipscomb, the company’s vice president of people.Anne Wojcicki, CEO of genetic testing company 23andMe, is one of the few womenat the helm of a large Silicon Valley tech company. Credit: JeffChiu/Associated Press“Other companies that I have come from have coined diversity as an‘initiative,’” he said. “Here, diversity is not really an initiative. It’smore embedded in our culture. It’s an attitude driven by Anne and permeates tothe executive team and rest of the company.”In addition to leading among black executives, NetApp also was among theleaders for women of color in executive roles, ranking sixth.But even some of the most diverse companies have work to do.View, a billion-dollar company, had the second-highest share of black workers,but none were executives. And it ranked second to last for women. A spokesmansaid that the company’s numbers have improved over time.“While we’re encouraged to see the numbers of women at View improve year overyear, we’re continuing to invest in recruiting efforts to attract more,” saidCameron Craig, View’s head of global corporate communications. “We seediversity as a key competitive advantage that fuels innovation.”And all of 23andMe’s executives were either white or Asian in 2016, accordingto its EEO-1 reports. Lipscomb acknowledged this shortcoming and said thecompany is working to develop diverse talent for leadership roles.There’s been a gradual cultural shift toward seeing diversity as an importantvalue that not only adds to the bottom line, but also is a moralresponsibility, said Katherine Emerson, a researcher at Mills College inOakland who studies corporate diversity.Diversity has been a frequent topic of research interest in the past decade,she added. The difference today, she said, “is that people are listening.”Airbnb laid out a plan in 2016 to recruit more female data scientists.Google, in an effort to be more transparent, released its own 2018 diversityreport with attrition data for the first time. The report acknowledged thateven though it was hiring more black workers, it also was losing them at ahigher rate than other groups.Pinterest announced its diversity goals publicly in 2015 and followed that upwith reports on progress and failures. It had the highest share of managerswho were women of color among the named companies in Reveal’s analysis.The company’s CEO, Ben Silbermann, sets the tone for what diversity shouldlook like at the company, said Ken Coleman, an industry veteran who serves asan adviser to the company.“The tone at the top matters a lot,” Coleman said. “The leader of theorganization has to be clear and vocal about their commitment to diversity.”## Most companies keep data secretGetting reliable diversity data from tech companies has been an uphill climbnot just for journalists, but also for tech employees and civil rightsadvocates.The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has been at the forefront of advocating for datatransparency and accountability initiatives at tech companies, criticized thenumbers for black and Latino workers for remaining low several years aftercompanies made public commitments.“These are the greatest planners in the world,” he said. “They plan globalmarkets. They plan technologies. They have not planned inclusion.”Strangely, some of the companies doing the best choose to remain anonymous.One company reported that a third of its executives are from underrepresentedminority groups. Another company – it could even be the same one because itsidentity also is hidden – said 82 percent of its executives and managers werewomen.Despite having one of the more diverse executive rungs in the industry, NetAppopposed a shareholder resolution to release its data. It refused to give theinformation to Reveal directly, too, but didn’t object to its release by thegovernment when we filed a FOIA request with the Labor Department for its 2016data.NetApp, Facebook and other tech companies say EEO-1 reports don’t accuratelyreflect how they think about their workforces. The EEO-1 is a snapshot in timeand doesn’t include all of NetApp’s employees because the form covers only theU.S., according to Barbara Hardy, the company’s global head of diversity,inclusion and belonging.Nonetheless, NetApp earlier this year released its 2017 EEO-1 form on itswebsite.“We were just like, ‘Here, take a look at our EEO-1. We have work to do justlike everybody else,’ ” Hardy said.Other federal contractors such as Palantir Technologies, Oracle and PandoraMedia opposed the release of their data, calling it a trade secret, and theLabor Department obliged.In April, Reveal filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the government violatedthe Freedom of Information Act by withholding companies’ EEO-1s. That lawsuitis pending.## White men dominate executive ranksIf career paths were staircases, the stairway leading women of color to thetop narrows as it rises. For white men, it widens.Reveal’s data shows that the share of women of color drops higher up at largetech companies. Among professionals – engineers, designers and analysts, forexample – 12 percent were Asian women in 2016, but 8 percent of managers and4.5 percent of executives were Asian women.The reverse is true for white men, who accounted for about 39 percent ofprofessionals, 47 percent of managers and 59 percent of executives. The shareof white women across job levels remained relatively consistent.Many factors contribute to this trend, including the hostilities that somewomen say they face every step of the way while working in tech.According to a 2017 study by the Kapor Center for Social Impact, a think tank,women and other underrepresented groups are more likely to experience unfairtreatment, stereotyping and bullying in tech workplaces, and these experiencesdirectly drive turnover.June Manley, co-founder of Female Founders Faster Forward, a nonprofit thathelps female entrepreneurs raise venture capital funding, said she feltdisrespected while interviewing for a leadership position last year at VMware,a large cloud computing software company.Manley said her interviewer, a senior vice president, told her that sheshouldn’t expect to join his team as a vice president because he “prefers aflat organization.” At the time, Manley had founded a tech company of her ownand had 17 years of experience working in tech, including in high-profileroles at firms such as HP and Citrix.After the interview, Manley said one of the male vice president’s subordinatestold her that she shouldn’t join the company if she wanted to work as a vicepresident on that team, because it was unlikely she’d get promoted once shewas on board. The company was an “old boys’ club,” the employee advised.VMware doesn’t release its EEO-1s publicly. In the 2015 report obtained byReveal through FOIA, the company had 20 percent female executives, about theaverage for large Silicon Valley tech firms. Reveal has requested thecompany’s 2016 form through FOIA.Manley wrote an email to company executives highlighting the incident. VMwarespokesman Michael Thacker said the company took her feedback seriously.“Growing and advancing women’s leadership and representation will remain a keyfocus area for investment and a business priority at VMware,” Thacker said ina statement.## Missed opportunities for women of colorEven when women and minorities get through the door, companies aren’t doingenough to help them grow into leaders, said Karla Monterroso, chief executiveofficer of Code2040, a nonprofit that focuses on developing black and Latinotalent in tech.Shanea King-Roberson, who is black, joined Google in 2013 as a contractoranswering user questions on company forums. She later was hired as a full-timeprogram manager on different teams, including Google Assistant.Shanea King-Roberson was a program manager at Google. But a manager told herthat she probably wouldn’t pass Google’s official tests when she tried to moveinto a higher-profile position for a product manager. She left and is now asenior technical product manager at eBay. Credit: Sinduja Rangarajan/RevealWhen a higher-profile position for a product manager opened up four yearslater, she said Google’s bureaucratic processes made it difficult to switchpaths, especially for non-engineers such as her.She had domain knowledge, some technical expertise and experience doingeverything a product manager would do. She had created product roadmaps, setmetrics and planned strategy, but, she said, that was not enough.After interviews with five people on the team she wanted to join and positiveverbal feedback, King-Roberson said the team manager pulled her aside and toldher that she probably wouldn’t pass Google’s official tests.She said the manager told her that the tests were hard and that her lack of acomputer science degree or years of software engineering experience was anobstacle.“I would rather have the actual title of having product manager for two yearsplus a CS degree so I can go and do whatever I want to do, rather than whatGoogle tells me that I can or cannot do,” she said. “So I left.”King-Roberson already had started pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computerscience to add to her degree in business and expects to graduate this summer.After leaving Google, she soon was hired as a senior technical product managerat eBay, where she works on machine learning products.She acknowledged that the role of a product manager at Google is a covetedposition and having a technical degree would have helped, but she also thinksshe could have done the job if given the opportunity.“I think I would have been just fine,” to be honest, she said. “And I say thatobjectively because I am doing it now.”A computer science degree is not a requirement to be a product manager atGoogle, a spokeswoman for the company said via email: “There are a variety ofskills we look for in PM candidates, and technical ability and experience isonly one of the areas we evaluate and a degree is just one way to capturethat.”Google did not directly answer questions about whether an emphasis ontechnical abilities keeps women and minorities from advancing at the company.Serena Cheng left Google in 2014 after working there for three years as abusiness product manager. She said the company’s everyday culture was informaland valued innovation through collaboration. But the company’s processes oftenrewarded engineering experience over other skills in roles such as productmanagement.And more often than not, women – and particularly women of color – didn’tneatly fit into the boxes that hiring managers look for, Cheng said, andcompanies lose out on the value they can bring.Some tech companies have a process to bring in people from nontraditionalbackgrounds, said Carissa Romero, a partner at Paradigm, a consulting firmthat advises companies on how to create a diverse and inclusive workforce.Pinterest has an apprenticeship program to allow people without a degree incomputer science to enter the tech industry and help them grow in theircompany.Sharla Alegria, an assistant professor of sociology at the University ofCalifornia, Merced, studies racial and gender inequities in tech. Sheinterviewed dozens of tech workers for one study and found that women of colorstruggled to switch teams or change career tracks within their companies.She found that white women in technical roles were offered opportunities tobecome managers in which they could use their communication skills totranslate between technical teams and management – even if the women weren’tactively seeking those jobs.As part of her research, Alegria met a 21-year-old white woman who was stillin school and interviewing for her first job out of college as an engineer.The interviewers asked her if she’d like to be a manager instead because ofher communication skills.“They tried to give her a role of a team lead or project manager instead of anengineer because she was particularly gregarious, even though she had noexperience in management,” Alegria said. She “had a degree in computer scienceand was barely qualified for this engineering position that she was trying toget.”Those same promotions weren’t offered to the women of color in Alegria’sstudy.“Every woman of color I interviewed was in a position that she had exactly theskills and credentials for,” she said. “There was none of this ‘oh you havethese fantastic communication skills; this job is really good for you.’”When white women move into managerial roles, some say they feel like it’s astep down from the social status of being an engineer, Alegria found. But theyat least had options to move to other roles that offered more flexibility andan escape from male-dominated engineering teams.Women of color didn’t get those opportunities, she said, so they’d be morelikely to leave tech.## Women, minorities overrepresented in support jobsEven in some companies with more diverse workforces, women and minorities –especially black workers – were overrepresented in support positions such asadministrative assistants, customer service and retail.Facebook, for instance, had 21 times as many women as men in itsadministrative support jobs in 2016, a proportion much higher than most othercompanies that have released their numbers. At the executive level, it was twoand half times as many men, according to its EEO-1 report.More than half of Apple’s Latino and black employees worked in retail oradministrative support.Lyft had a higher representation of black workers across job levels comparedwith its peers. But still, 70 percent of its black employees worked inadministrative support.The distribution of a company’s workforce – who’s working and in whichpositions – sends signals to minority groups, said Katherine Emerson, theMills College researcher.“Am I welcome at the top and they just haven’t found anybody to be up therefirst? Or is it that people like me are going to be relegated to lower-levelpositions?” she said. “And that experience for women and for people of coloris so exhausting and so stressful.”Angelica Coleman, who is black, worked as an executive assistant supportingengineering teams at the online file storage company Dropbox. She said shelearned to code from her colleagues and friends and had a verbal offer to moveonto a design team at the company. But, she said, her boss blocked the move.Coleman wrote in a Facebook post at the time that another “white manager satme down, looked me in the eye and told me, ‘If you ever want to be anythingother than an admin, you need to go somewhere else.’ ”Dropbox did not respond to Reveal for this story and is one of the companiesthat hasn’t released its EEO-1 report.After leaving Dropbox in 2015, Coleman was able to move up. She worked atZendesk, a software company, as a developer relations manager, supporting theplatform’s third-party developers and doing some programming. She currentlyworks as a community director at the nonprofit Lesbians Who Tech.Companies should create pathways for people in support roles to move up theladder through training and mentorship, Code2040’s Monterroso said.“In the previous generations, folks who were working in the mailroom at Kodakwould all of a sudden become the manager of an entire region because theyworked themselves up little by little,” she said. “That is not the life thatcurrent entry-level and working-class people have.”## Is there a pipeline problem?Studies repeatedly have exposed a gap between the percentage of black andLatino computer science graduates in the country and the percentage of blackand Latino engineers in Silicon Valley.“Usually companies feel like it’s more of a pipeline problem, but often, thepipeline has more diversity than the current employee population,” saidRomero, the Paradigm diversity consultant. “And that’s particularly true whenyou look at race and ethnicity.”Tech companies care too much about pedigree and schools, Monterroso said.“Stanford is not a skill. MIT is not a skill. Harvard is not a skill,” shesaid. “They have yet to identify the skills that are disproportionately comingfrom those universities that make them top-tier talent.”In addition, minorities hold a far higher percentage of tech jobs outside thetech sector, suggesting that there may be more workers available than thecurrent narrow pool from which tech companies recruit.A recent Government Accountability Office report estimated that 8 percent ofprofessionals at companies such as banks, universities and hospitals wereblack, including employees in technical roles. Meanwhile, 4 percent of allprofessionals in leading tech companies were black, according to the report.“If there is a pipeline problem here,” said Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, theUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst professor, “it may simply be the failureto build the pipe.”

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