Mon, Sep 07, 2015 - Page 14 News List

The changing faces of diversity at US Internet giants

COMPANY BREAKDOWNS:The latest wave of ‘diversity reporting’ has highlighted the differences in workforce data regarding gender and ethnicity at major US companies

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

White or Asian men are the typical employees in major US technology firms, and this has changed little since the first wave of “diversity reporting” last year. Workforce data provided by companies was global regarding gender and limited to the US regarding ethnicity.

Google Inc was overall 70 percent male in January this year, a make-up unchanged from last year. When it came to purely technology jobs, the percentage of men rose to 82. About 60 percent of Google employees were white, while about 31 percent were said to be Asian.

The Internet giant stepped up recruitment of blacks and Hispanics last year, but their share of the workforce remained unchanged at 2 and 3 percent respectively. Google said that it has ramped up university recruitment and is devoting US$150 million this year to improving diversity.

Apple Inc increased last year’s hiring of women, blacks and Hispanics by more than 50 percent, adding a total of 15,900 positions in a new record for the world’s biggest technology company, according to chief executive Tim Cook, who maintained that there was “a lot more work to be done.”

California-based Apple’s workforce was 69 percent men at the end of June, compared with 70 percent last summer. The share reached 79 percent for technology positions.

Some 54 percent of Apple employees were white, while about 11 percent were Asian. Apple showed a relatively high proportion of employees who were Hispanic (11 percent, unchanged) and black (8 percent, up one point). Facebook Inc has Sheryl Sandberg as its second most powerful executive but was still 68 percent men in late May, down one point from the previous year.

The share reached 84 percent when limited to technological positions. Whites made up 55 percent of the social network’s workforce in a drop of 2 percent from a year earlier, while the share of Asians rose 2 percent to 36 percent.

The share of Hispanics and blacks did not change, remaining 4 percent and 2 percent respectively. Facebook has begun resorting at times to a “Rooney Rule” that has been in force since 2003 in the National Football League. The rule calls for at least one qualified candidate from an under-represented group to be proposed for each vacancy. This rule is being tested by other technology firms including Twitter and Pinterest.

Intel Corp has also adopted the Rooney Rule. The world’s largest chip maker disclosed a breakdown of staff in July that was virtually unchanged compared to the end of last year. Men account for 75 percent of employees, and even 80 percent in technological jobs.

Fifty-four percent of employees are white, followed by Asian workers at 32 percent. Hispanics made up some 8 percent of the workforce while 3.5 percent was black. Intel is striving to have its workforce reflect the demographics of the US population by 2020, with a goal of 40 percent “diversity” hires this year.

In June, Intel launched an investment fund of US$125 million targeting start-ups run by women or ethnic minorities.

Microsoft Corp’s ranks of employees was 72 percent men in late June, and the share rose to 83 percent for technology positions.

The US software giant classified 59 percent of its workers as “Caucasian,” and said it was 29 percent Asian, starting with chief executive Satya Nadella.

Only 5 percent of Microsoft’s workforce was Latino and 3 percent was black — levels virtually unchanged from an initial diversity report published in October of last year.

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