Yo, tech bro. You can chillax. Hunker down in your hoodie and focus on scoring high on the company arcade’s Space Invaders. Not many females are likely to invade your office space any time soon. Or African Americans or Latinos. Diversity is so last administration.
What? Your company actually signed that White House Tech Inclusion Pledge during the waning days of the Obama Administration. Dude, no one ever took that pledge stuff seriously.
The official pledge, signed on June 22 by 33 tech companies, including Airbnb and Lyft, as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, vowed to make “a bold commitment to fuel American innovation and economic growth by increasing the diversity of our technology workforce.”
The pledge went on to say, “We resolve to take action to make the technology workforce at each of our companies fully representative of the American people, as soon as possible. We will treat this goal as a top management priority and business imperative, because tapping the full measure of talent from across the country is critical for the long-term success of both our individual companies and the nation as a whole.”
It then laid out several action steps the companies agreed to take such as recruiting, retaining and advancing diverse tech talent. They also pledged to create more inclusive company cultures.
Six months later? According to current Paysa data, most of the top tech firms remain frat houses full of mostly white and Asian males. Many of these guys probably grew up dividing their time between crushing AP calc and playing Diablo. While their shared interests and commonalities seem to cut across Asian and Caucasian ethnicities and create a camaraderie, the same may not hold true when it comes to women and non-Asian people of color.
Tech Employment Divide Persists Despite Good Intentions
Consider Airbnb, the second highest ranked tech company in the U.S. according to Paysa’s tech company rankings. Although Airbnb signed the pledge, the home sharing company remains 50% white and 47% Asian with 3% Latino and zero African Americans. As for gender, Airbnb employees are 74% male and 26% female – actually not a bad split for a major tech firm. Any company with 25% or more female employees is doing pretty good. At Lyft, a company that also signed the pledge, the 81% male to 19% female employees is more typical for tech companies, especially those in Silicon Valley. Lyft’s workforce is 57% white, 38% Asian and 4% Latino. Lyft ranks 12th in Paysa’s overall tech company rankings. Nest Labs, maker of smart home devices and ranked 28th, is 100% male. With perks like onsite chefs, no one presumably has to worry about making their own coffee.
Typically, companies that have the highest percentage of female employees tend to be companies focused on shopping. And they also tend to not be among Paysa’s highest ranked companies. Stella & Dot, a fashion and accessories firm, has a workforce that is 50% women, the most of any tech company. But the firm ranks 79th in Paysa’s rankings. Lower ranked firms generally offer lower pay and bonuses.
Of the top ten ranked company’s, only Pinterest at number four, bends gender slightly more favorably with 26% female to 74% male workers. Which stands to reason considering that over 80% of the virtual bulletin board’s users are women who post over 90% of the site’s shared images known as “pins,” according to a recent study cited on Marketing Land.
How Will Diversity Fare in Trump’s Ship of State?
President-elect Donald Trump is not known as a kumbiyah kind of guy. The fact that his winking boys-will-be-boys persona defeated a woman with way more government experience seems all too familiar to women who have struggled to break into tech.
“What did Donald Trump show (in the election)? You can be the most qualified woman in the world, and the man that abuses you is still going to win that office and be taken more seriously. And I think that’s a disastrous message,” commented Breanna Wu, the engineer whose life was threatened during the Gamergate controversy about misogyny in computer games.
With his talk of building walls and promoting deportations, no one is expecting Trump’s White House to hold a follow-up White House Tech Inclusion Pledge drive. And although Silicon Valley tech leaders looked glum at their recent summit meeting with Trump, those tech guys with the nerf light sabers under their desks might be secretly glad that the whole diversity-in-tech thing may soon seem as antiquated as last year’s Windows upgrade.