Tech companies have been vocal about their commitment to diversity in the workforce. It’s heartening to see over 80 companies including Intel, SAP, Airbnb, Spotify amongst others, pledge to act to make the technology workforce fully inclusive, as soon as possible. Yet, it seems like an uphill climb. The numbers are not changing fast enough. Are companies only ‘checking the boxes’ or is the commitment real? Fortunately, it does seem like the winds of change are blowing in the right direction!
Let’s take Google, as an example. Google first began voluntarily publishing and sharing its diversity statistics in 2014. The numbers were dismal on both counts - gender and ethnicity. It didn’t take long for the company to understand that not embracing diversity would impede Google’s growth in the future.
In 2015, Google committed to spend $150 million to promote diversity. Google was pulling all the stops to attract more women and minorities. Google worked at this challenge on all fronts – hiring, inclusion, education and communities. To change the demographics inside Google, the company cast a wider net for new hires and created more paths into Google for women and minorities. The company’s efforts are paying off, albeit slowly.
Apart from hiring, internally Google created the Diversity Core program to connect employees to high impact diversity projects across Google and in local communities. Diversity Core is a formal program in which Google employees contribute one-fifth of their time to initiatives aimed at attracting more women and minorities and creating a more welcoming culture for them — both at Google and in the tech industry. Google created various Employee Resource Groups where Google employees could connect with a network of people who share their values of supporting diversity. Google also teamed up with a handful of organizations, dedicated to encouraging young women to pursue career opportunities in the tech industry as part of the Made with Code initiative.
The 2016 data is out on their website (https://www.google.com/diversity/). Today, Google says that 69% percent of its employees are male, while 31% are female – the numbers showing a slight increase from the previous year. But only 19% of Google's technical roles are held by women, while 81% of them are held by men. A slightly healthier progression has been made in the leadership numbers. Women now hold 24% of leadership positions in the company.
Google has been the trailblazer in people practices. They set the bar and the rest have followed. For years now, Google has been the number one best place to work for but it hasn’t found a place in any of the surveys when it comes to diversity. It looks like that will change soon.