Certainly, on one level, the news coming out of Google on Wednesday that the Mountain View, Calif., company still has a long way to go as far as diversity and inclusion are concerned was hardly surprising. Like a lot of Silicon Valley companies, because of the nature of its business, you’d expect Google might struggle on this front.
But it’s at least refreshing to see Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock go public with the company’s diversity data, something I’m told is somewhat rare in the ever-secretive Valley.
In case you missed it, here’s what Bock posted on his blog …
We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. 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 … .”
Globally, Bock reports, Google’s workforce consists of 70 percent men and 30 percent women; while in the United States, only 2 percent of its workforce are black and 3 percent are Hispanic. (It should be noted, though, that 30 percent are Asian while 61 percent are white.)
In terms of leadership, the ethnicity numbers were even less diverse, with 72 percent of the executives being white, 23 percent Asian, 2 percent black and 1 percent Hispanic.
In his blog post, Bock continues …
There are lots of reasons why technology companies like Google struggle to recruit and retain women and minorities. For example, women earn roughly 18 percent of all computer-science degrees in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics make up under 10 percent of U.S. college grads and collect fewer than 5 percent of degrees in CS majors, respectively. So we’ve invested a lot of time and energy in education. Among other things, since 2010, we’ve given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer-science education to women and girls. And we’ve been working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science. For example, this year, Google engineer Charles Pratt was in-residence at Howard University, where he revamped the school’s Intro to CS curriculum. But we’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be … .”
I asked Daniel S. Guillory, CEO of Innovations International, a consultancy based in San Francisco with expertise in the areas of diversity and inclusion, if the Google figures were in line with what’s happening at other tech companies in the Valley.
“I’d say they’re pretty close,” Guillory said. “Perhaps you’ll find more diversity at companies that have been at it longer [such as Intel and HP] and have a culture established for a longer period of time, but as far as newer companies are concerned, I would think these figures are somewhat similar.”
Guillory’s advice to companies in the Valley struggling with this issue …
First, he said, look at where you recruit. “A lot of times, organizations will recruit from certain schools, so the first thing I would say is to broaden where you do your recruiting,” he says. “Taking the top 10 percent of students from Stanford is one approach, but recruiting someone who’s in the 1 percent from a university somewhere else, one that might not be considered a top-tier school, gives you the opportunity to find [top talent as well].”
The other thing, Guillory continues, is to create an inclusive culture. It’s one thing to recruit talent, he says, but it’s equally important to create a culture that truly values and integrates the contributions of people who are different.
Of course, whether Google can make greater strides in improving the diversity of its workforce in the coming years remains to be seen. But it’s nonetheless good to see Bock and Google take a meaningful step in that direction by being candid about where things stand today.