Facebook Diversity Numbers Put It In The Tech Crowd

Lots of white males in technical positions

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Facebook just said it's at 69 percent. Google is at 70 percent. Yahoo clocked in at 62 percent. This is the face of male dominance in the upper echelons of high tech.

After considerable outside pressure, all three companies have released varying amounts of details on employment diversity. The picture is largely one of white males, particularly in technical roles and upper management. And while these companies and others say that they want a more diverse workplace, the numbers could make many qualified recruits look elsewhere.

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Facebook caught particular attention because COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg refused to disclose data on racial and gender makeup to the Wall Street Journal in May. She told the paper, "It's really important to share [the diversity numbers] internally and eventually externally." Google had kept its numbers private for years, CNET reported, as had Yahoo, according to USA Today.

Although the high tech industry often talks about inclusiveness and its desire to reach out to all people, the results were the sort of thing that managers might want to bury under a rug. Start with Yahoo, where the CEO is Marissa Mayer. Not only is the workforce 62 percent male overall, but 85 percent of technical positions and 77 percent of the leadership is male, according to the company's post from June 17th this year.

Half of Yahoo employees are white, with African Americans representing 2 percent and Hispanics, 4 percent. The number of white employees jumps to 78 percent in leadership, although 57 percent of the technical staff is Asian. Only 17 percent of company leadership is Asian, while African-American and Hispanic representation rest at 1 percent each. As was true for all three companies, racial breakout was for the U.S. only, as laws in other countries prohibit such reporting.

Google's percentage of males jumps to 83 percent in technical positions, while leadership is only 21 percent female, according to the company's diversity website.

Whites represent 61 percent of all employees at Google, followed by Asians at 30 percent, with only 3 percent and 2 percent of employees identifying as Hispanic or African-American respectively. The split between white and Asian technical employees was 60 percent/34 percent. Only 2 percent of Hispanics and 1 percent of American Americans were in technical positions. Leadership is 72 percent white, 23 percent Asian, 2 percent African-American, and 1 percent Hispanic. According to the company, although gender data was global, ethnic data was U.S. only.

Facebook's overall ethnic breakout was 57 percent white, 34 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent African-American. Leadership was 74 percent white, 19 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent African-American. For technical employees the breakout was 53 percent white, 41 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent African-American. Technical personnel were 85 percent male, as were 77 percent of "senior level" employees. Overall, women made up only 31 percent of employees.

According to USA Today, the week before Facebook released its numbers, Sandberg called the lack of diversity in companies "pretty depressing". Although the Facebook report came out on Wednesday, by Thursday mention of it had yet to appear on the Facebook Diversity page. The most recent post, from June 23 was about Facebook's Pride GLBT celebration.

Erik Sherman

Erik Sherman

Contributor

Erik Sherman has written for the Wall Street Journal, Inc, Newsweek, the New York Times Magazine, and other publications. He's a regular contributor to CBS MoneyWatch and Inc.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman.

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