Google Diversity Numbers Highlight Tech’s Challenge


Yesterday, Google took a bold step in releasing the diversity data for its workforce. Of Google’s 46,170 employees worldwide, just 30% are women, 2% are black, and 3% are Hispanic. Asian workers make up 30% of employees, a very far second behind white workers at 61%.

The numbers, gathered as part of a report that major U.S. employers are required to file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, confirm what much of the public has suspected--Google’s current workforce is mostly white and male. Google’s disclosure of its diversity figures finally provides hard evidence to back-up polemics against the homogeneity of Silicon Valley’s gender and ethnic makeup.

Tech industry giants have been notoriously discreet about their workplace diversity. Google is one of the first major Internet companies to disclose this data to the public, a commendable first step on a long road ahead that the company has to remedy its hiring and retention disparities. Lazlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations admits, “Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.”   

There’s no doubt that Google’s diversity problem is one faced across the board in the tech industry. Silicon Valley has both a pipeline and retention challenge when it comes to recruiting a diverse workforce. Women earn approximately 18% of all computer science degrees in the United States, while Blacks and Hispanics make up less than 10% of U.S. college graduates and earn under 5% of degrees in CS majors. These statistics are reflective of a larger systemic problem, but rumors and realities of tech’s white “bro culture” present contexts and environments that make staying in tech unappealing for the women and minorities that are granted access in the first place.    

While companies are not required to disclose their diversity figures, it is a hope that Google’s example will pressure other big players such as Facebook, Apple, and Twitter to quickly follow suit. Google’s disclosure marks a pivotal moment in Silicon Valley’s agenda: it’s time to start solving the problems of inclusion and access.