Google steps up efforts for more racial diversity

May 29, 2014 by Martha Mendoza
In this May 30, 2007 file photo, Google employees work on their laptops at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. In a groundbreaking disclosure, Google on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 revealed how very white and male its workforce is—just 2 percent of its Googlers are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, and 30 percent are women. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Google has had more trouble diversifying its workforce than its computer scientists have had writing programs that respond to search requests in the blink of an eye.

That seemed to be the conclusion when the Silicon Valley giant this week issued a gender and ethnic breakdown of its workforce. It showed that of its 26,600 U.S. employees, 61 percent are white, 30 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black. Thirty percent of its employees are women.

"Google is miles from where we want to be," said Laszlo Bock, head of personnel at Google.

Bock says the biggest factor is a shortage of such students majoring in computer science or other technical fields in college.

One year, there were just two black people in the U.S. with new doctorates in computer science on the job market, Google says. The company hired one of them, and Microsoft hired the other, according to Bock.

But that doesn't entirely account for the lack of diversity.

For instance, Google sells $50 billion in advertising annually, a task that required more than 2,900 salespeople in the U.S. as of last August. Just 79 of them, or 3 percent, were black. A total of 127, or 4 percent, were Hispanic. More than 2,000, or about 70 percent, were white.

Google attributes this phenomenon to "unconscious biases" that have historically favored white people. To address this issue, Google has put more than 20,000 employees through sessions during the past year to help them become more aware of their biases.

Google is also trying to do more recruiting at colleges with large minority enrollments. During the past year, Google has dispatched a specialist to work with historically black Howard University to draw up a curriculum that will give its graduates a better chance of competing for technology jobs against the likes of MIT. The program will be extended to five other colleges this fall.

Google is just one of many high-tech companies that are pledging to diversify their workforces under pressure from the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition have been leading delegations to shareholder meetings this year at such companies as Google, Facebook, eBay and Hewlett-Packard, decrying "old patterns that exclude people of color and women from opportunity and advancement."

In 1999, when Jackson launched his first Silicon Valley initiative, 89 percent of Silicon Valley chairmen and CEOs were white, while the white-collar workforce was about 60 percent white and 31 percent Asian. Those figures have barely changed.

"I'm disappointed. For the most part, they have not improved," Jackson said Thursday.

Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and Advanced Micro Devices also have published labor data breakdowns.

Four percent of the 57,000 U.S. employees at computer chip maker Intel Corp. are black, according to the company's breakdown. About 8 percent of Intel's U.S. workers are Hispanic and 26 percent are women.

"We are not satisfied with our diversity data, and we continuously strive to improve," said Patricia McDonald, the company's vice president of human resources.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has won praise for hiring two women, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, as CEO since 1999. Overall, one-third of HP's U.S. staff are women, according to the company's most recent statistics; 7 percent of U.S. workers are black and 6 percent are Hispanic.

Sharon Vosmek, CEO of nonprofit Astia, which connects women-led startups with financial backers, said: "This is not a Google issue; this is a societal issue."

Explore further: White and male, Google releases diversity data (Update)

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google to release diversity data about workforce

May 15, 2014

Google is planning to release statistics documenting the diversity of its workforce for the first time amid escalating pressure on the technology industry to hire more minorities and women.

Jesse Jackson targets tech's lack of diversity

Mar 20, 2014

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is bringing a strategy borrowed from the traditional civil rights era playbook to the age of social media and a booming tech industry known for its disruptive innovation.

Google, Costco and Facebook best employers

May 25, 2014

Google, Facebook and wholesale retailer Costco offer the best pay and benefit packages in the United States, according to employee ratings compiled by the US job site Glassdoor.

Google's trial ferry service in SF Bay ends

Feb 09, 2014

Google has ended a trial run of transporting workers to the company's Silicon Valley campus by water, and it's unclear whether the tech giant will continue the ferry service.

Workers in tech case likely to get average of $4K

May 23, 2014

Nearly 60,000 high-tech workers are likely to receive an average of $4,000 apiece in a settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging Apple and Google conspired in an illegal cartel of Silicon Valley employers that secretly ...

Recommended for you

What's PayPal's first solo move?

44 minutes ago

PayPal's impending split from long-time partner eBay Inc. will ratchet up its appeal to online retail competitors such as Amazon.com and give it the freedom to aggressively take on new mobile pay challeng ...

AOL to feed more video, news to Microsoft's MSN

5 hours ago

AOL will provide Microsoft's MSN with more video and additional news stories from popular sites such as The Huffington Post and TechCrunch in an expansion of a deal aimed at selling more digital advertising.

Microsoft to tap $2-trillion Indian cloud market

9 hours ago

Microsoft announced plans Tuesday to offer its commercial cloud services from Indian data centres as it seeks to tap what it calls a $2-trillion market in the country where Internet use is growing rapidly.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dirk_bruere
not rated yet May 30, 2014
70% were White - which almost exactly matches the percentage of Whites in the USA.
So it looks like Asians are edging out other minorities?
Pejico
Jun 01, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.