Published On: Thu, Nov 27th, 2014

Racial Diversity Increasing Within the Tech Industry

According to a recent USA TODAY article, the technology industry is beginning to see an increase of diversity within its ranks. The tech field has long been known to lack representation from certain ethnic groups, including African-Americans and Latin-Americans.

photo Frerieke from The Hague, The Netherlands via wikimedia commons

photo Frerieke from The Hague, The Netherlands via wikimedia commons

USA TODAY broached this topic with their series entitled, Inequity in Silicon Valley. The series was meant to start a dialogue on the challenges faced by minorities in Silicon Valley firms and the tech industry, in general. Here is a synopsis of what was discovered through the series and what kinds of changes are being made to address the issues.

Issues Facing Diversity in Tech

Initial USA TODAY coverage determined that there was an extremely low ratio of women, African American and Hispanics employed at the big name companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, ebay and others. In some cases, there were only numbers in the single digits representing these groups at each company. That’s a surprising find. Findings were even more dismal regarding the racial makeup of corporate boards. According to a survey by the Rainbow PUSH coalition of 20 companies and their total of 189 board members, there were only three blacks and one Hispanic represented on those boards. The three companies with minority representation from these groups were Oracle, Salesforce.com and Microsoft.

A lead reporter in the USA TODAY series discovered a troubling trend regarding education and the hiring process of tech companies. It seems that African American and Latino computer engineering and computer science majors are graduating from top universities at a much higher rate than they are being hired by well-known names in tech. In fact, the number of qualified minority grads in these racial groups are about twice that of those who are actually hired.

The series coverage goes on to investigate the salaries and pay rates of those who do get hired at these well-known Silicon Valley companies. The article states that African Americans, Hispanics and Asians alike are being paid less on average than their counterparts of other races. For example, it was found that Hispanics earned an average of $16,353 less per year than non-Hispanics in similar positions. African Americans and Asians did not fare better.

Changes Being Made

Since the publication of the USA TODAY series, Inequity in Silicon Valley, some changes have been made for the better. Perhaps most notably, Microsoft CEO has doubled down on efforts to increase diversity after he made comments regarding women relying on karma with regard to receiving a raise. A well-known investor, Marc Andreessen, and his philanthropist wife, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, have pledged $500,000 to three non profits that are working to increase diversity in tech. Even NBA superstar, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, has stepped up to address the problem.

In addition, USA TODAY put together a panel of experts including Reverend Jesse Jackson, Nancy Lee of Google and Maxine Williams of Facebook, among others to promote the dialogue surrounding racial diversity in tech. Meanwhile, leaders like technological businessman and philanthropist, Ehsan Bayat, continue to lead by example. Things are changing for the better.

Guest Author: Lolita Di

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