Recent findings reveal large tech companies have a long way to go to create a more diverse workplace, but there has been a rise in the number of women hired for positions.
Feb. 22, 2020
The tech industry in the United States employs around 12 million people and is worth $1.8 trillion. The industry makes up for more than 10% of the national economy, but it’s no secret that the big businesses are mostly run by white men. The latest gender-diversity statistics are nothing to be proud of, with women barely holding positions in a quarter of computer jobs, while just 11% have an executive position. It’s also estimated that just 8.1% of tech companies’ employees are of ethnic background.
Big tech businesses including Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) revealed their second diversity report in 2019. Five years prior, when the first report was released, Facebook’s CEO Tim Cook admitted it had “more work to do – a lot more.”
In the five year period, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn and expanded its cloud computing service. Meanwhile, Facebook increased its monthly active users by 1 billion and Apple released the Apple Watch, Airpods, and a range of new iPhones. Despite all these business highs, none of the companies made progress in diversifying the workplace.
Tech Industry Reports Progress For Women
The recent data shows that the share of U.S. technical employees of color rose by less than a percentage point since 2014 at Google and Microsoft. At Apple, the number is unchanged at 6%. The positive news is for women at large businesses, with 23% of the technical workforce made up of women, an increase from 15% five years prior.
Google also reported similar statistics, but no company is close to having addressed the problem, despite pledging millions to better its diversity. One company that is stepping in the right direction is online retail giant, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). The company doesn’t report demographics for its workforce, which makes it difficult to track the company’s progress against the other big tech names. However, Amazon’s U.S workforce is believed to consist of around 42% women and 42% people of color.
‘Neurodiversity’ In The Tech Industry
An Australian social scientist who was autistic created the term ‘neurodiversity,’ which was first used in the context of autism to question the condition being described as ‘abnormal.’ Autism is much more common within the tech industry than people might expect. Some studies suggest that as much as a third of technical programmers and software engineers could be on the autistic spectrum.
Certain types of autism are characterized by highly analytical and detail-orientated approaches to tasks. Therefore, acceptance of neurodiversity within the tech world can be hugely beneficial.
What Can Companies Do Better?
A report by McKinsey, a management consulting firm, has found that gender and ethnic diversity are clearly correlated to profitability. In the company’s previous analysis, businesses in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15% more likely to have above-average profits. While the more recent data in 2018, reveals this has grown to around 21%.
As for companies that have a more culturally and ethnically diverse executive team were around 33% more likely to post more impressive earnings. These impressive statistics should be empowering tech companies to invest in more hiring programs and building retention initiatives, but it is quite the opposite after the report found diversity is lacking within more than 1,000 companies it looked at. For example, at U.S. based firms, only 4% of colored Americans were in a senior executive position.
Overall, creating diversity within the workplace is always going to be a work in progress and can always be improved on. It is important for businesses to take action now, and pledge commitment to finding out where the company is at, and what needs to be improved on.
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Written by Alsha Coppolina.