If American companies could once turn a blind eye on the diversity of their workers, that era of ignorance is over. Galvanized by high-profile incidents in Silicon Valley and beyond, businesses large and small are now confronting the influence of discrimination within their cultures. As titans like Apple task their executives with building an inclusive atmosphere, other giants reckon with accusations that they’re failing to do enough.
In this project, we decided to shed light on America’s corporate diversity debate with our own data. Leveraging our database of millions of employee and company records, we studied which industries afford nonwhite workers the most opportunity in tech and leadership roles. Our findings cover questions of experience and salary at the heart of this sensitive debate, unearthing statistics relevant to the discussion of ethnic diversity issues. Read on to learn where minority employees enjoy equal professional possibilities and where our data suggest more progress must be made.
First, we analyzed the industries in which nonwhite employees occupied the largest percentage of tech and leadership positions, as well as where they were dramatically underrepresented. Many industries demonstrated particular progress: Nonwhite employees occupied around nearly one-third to 39 percent of tech and leadership positions in the software, internet, and communications fields, respectively. Retail, financial services, technology, and transportation weren’t far behind, with each boasting a rate of roughly 30 percent of nonwhite employees.
Unfortunately, the numbers were substantially lower in many industries, some of which would seem to benefit immensely from incorporating diverse talents and perspectives. In education, for example, nearly 87 percent of leadership and tech positions are held by white workers – a troubling statistic for a field that serves the diverse community of America’s students. Similarly, just 15.7 percent of the military’s tech and leadership roles were occupied by minorities, although the pool of Americans with relevant experience is far more diverse. Nonwhite soldiers represented 40 percent of active-duty military personnel in 2015, according to the Department of Defense’s figures.
The numbers were substantially lower
in many industries.
Ethnicity, Experience, and Salary
While Caucasian workers were the highest earners in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, Asian-Americans in tech and leadership roles made the most in the Bay Area and Seattle. Though Asian-Americans may enjoy pay supremacy in these places, recent events have shed light on the unique set of challenges they face in tech. Palantir recently settled a discrimination suit in which they were alleged to have intentionally avoided hiring Asian applicants. Oracle was the subject of a similar suit, which suggested the company specifically sought to hire Asian workers for certain roles, all while paying their white counterparts more.
African-American professionals actually made more than their Caucasian counterparts in Seattle, but their pay lagged behind Asian-American and white workers in everywhere else. Hispanic employees faced even greater challenges, earning the lowest wages of any ethnic group in each city. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus called on tech leaders to address this issue in 2017, noting that merely 8 percent of tech workers nationwide are Hispanic. This group also represents just 3 percent of tech’s executives – and exclusion from these high-paying roles might explain their lower average salaries.
Ethnicity and Earnings
Our database included many businesses comprised primarily of nonwhite employees. To some extent, these metrics may reflect the geographic sprawl of modern corporations: Syntel, Tech Mahindra, Mphasis, and Wipro, for instance, each employs a workforce in India. Even domestically based businesses, such as @WalmartLabs, ranked near the top of the list, as did marketing giant Sapient.
Many of tech’s most prominent companies offered high pay rates for nonwhite employees: Uber and Facebook offered top salaries for workers of all ethnicities. Yet these two companies have very different records on pay among ethnic groups: Whereas Caucasians earned 11.5 percent less at Uber, they made slightly more than minority workers at the social network. In fact, Uber’s earnings gap was only exceeded by that of Salesforce, where minority workers earned 11.6 percent more on average. This figure may relate to the company’s explicit push to embrace diversity in all its forms, emphasizing an “Ohana” culture of support and inclusion.
Diversity and Longevity
Recent reporting has emphasized the attrition of minority workers in tech: When nonwhite workers leave a given company with regularity, their departures may indicate a problematic culture. Accordingly, we studied which of our most diverse companies boasted the most experienced nonwhite workers by analyzing the length of their workforce experience. At Marvell Technology Group Ltd., for example, nearly 40 percent of minority workers had 11 or more years of experience, while roughly 38 percent had that much experience at @WalmartLabs.
Tata Consultancy Services had the most employees at the early stages of their careers, with nearly 85 percent of minority employees having 10 years of experience or less. As the company employs over 371,000 consultants around the world, it’s no wonder Tata is tapping into relatively young talent to meet its personnel demands. Sapient also possessed a large percentage of minority workers in the early years of their careers, which may reflect its recent hiring push in India and millennial-heavy company demographic.
Diversity and Development Skills
We also considered how the skills of nonwhite professionals stacked up against that of an average worker in each industry. In many cases, they possessed a slightly or significantly different set of skills than the average employee. While this trend was relatively limited in fields that demanded a precise set of technical abilities, such as aerospace, it was abundantly clear in broader industries. In technology, for instance, the top skills among nonwhite employees were entirely different than the most common skills on average.
One troubling finding was the disparity in management skills among white and nonwhite workers. Management was among the most common skills for white workers in IT, technology, telecommunications, and financial services, but the same could not be said for their nonwhite counterparts. These results support recent evidence that Silicon Valley’s diversity issues intensify at the top of the corporate ladder in tech, even when companies’ workforces show signs of diversification overall.
Management was among the most common skills for white workers,
but the same could not be said for their nonwhite counterparts.
Awareness and Opportunity
Our findings reveal both encouraging improvement and lingering inequality in the composition of tech and leadership positions across America. We hope these results make the need for continued progress clear, while also celebrating companies and industries that have made great strides already. In the years to come, talented workers may gravitate to industries where diversity is already a priority, or seek to break down barriers in fields where prejudice remains. Whichever path they choose, a growing awareness of corporate diversity issues can aid the public’s conversation about the personal and professional opportunities to which we’re all entitled.
Along your own professional journey, relevant career information will also prove indispensable. At Paysa, our mission is to provide personalized job data to help you navigate every step, from a promotion or raise to a new field altogether. Our customized resources help you define success in your own terms and achieve it.
Using information from our extensive database, we analyzed millions of technology and leadership positions to derive statistics related to race and ethnicity, salary, skills, and time in the workforce. We examined 483 companies, each of which had at least 500 employee records in our database. To preserve a large sample size, we excluded findings related to racial and ethnic groups with fewer than 15 employee records per company. These exclusions included Native American and multiracial employees.
While our data are extensive, they should not be interpreted to represent all companies in a given industry, nor are they inclusive of all employee records at each company. Our findings may differ from a given company’s internal metrics accordingly.
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