Google recently revealed its diversity issues. A mere five percent of Google’s employees are black and Latino, and just 30 percent of employees worldwide are women. In the company’s leadership, women hold just 21 percent of the positions.
Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock posted a comment in Google’s corporate blog revealing these statistics on May 28. He admitted that the company is not in a good place, and that a lack of preparedness in confronting such challenges openly is hard to accept, even with facts.
The company is correct. It is hard to discuss issues like racial and gender discrimination when such practices are so prevalent and perpetuated in society. Noticing something wrong is one thing, and doing something to fix a problem is another.
With blacks and Latinos making up roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population, racial and sexual diversity remain a serious problem at many prominent companies. Google just revealed itself as one of them. Even journalism is not at its highest potential despite many talented minorities out there. Bylines still belong to white males, leaving out many possibilities for unique and important stories. A recent report by the Women’s Media Center found that men had over 63 percent of news bylines and TV appearances last year.
Google’s diversity issues report comes after the Rev. Jesse Jackson urged the company to release such information at a meeting earlier last month. He wrote letters to top technology companies and pointed out that advancement should be inclusive, but this is not the case. Other companies including Facebook and the New York Times have yet to release diversity statistics, or have declined to do so.
In the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, diversity is in question, too. Less than five percent of computer science degree holders are black and Latino. According to statistics from the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science fell from 35 percent to 12 percent between the years 1985 and 2012.
Hiring practices are another thing to consider. There have been reports of qualified candidates in all fields having their resumes put into the rejection pile because of perceptions of where they went to college or their names not being “white enough,” thus decreasing diversity. Pay inequality between the sexes also remains an issue.
In an interview with PBS NewsHour on May 28, Bock said a diverse work force increases chances of thinking of “better ideas” and doing “more interesting things.” Google says that it has increased efforts to close the diversity gap through recruitment that encourages women and minorities to seek opportunities in computer science. Providing educational programs aimed at children in communities that are often ignored is another tactic the company mentioned.
Issues like a lack of diversity amongst employees in a company as global as Google are going to take time to be dealt with properly so as to avoid them getting worse in future. In a country that prides itself on being a melting pot of cultures, nationalities and ethnicities, minorities and women are still being denied a piece of the pie.
Commentary by Sibylla Chipaziwa