Diversity Data: Here’s How U.S. Tech Giants Measure Up

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

This summer, a range of U.S. tech companies have made the move to reveal the demographic statistics on how diverse its workforces are — or aren’t — in terms of gender and ethnicity. Google led the charge, revealing that its global workforce is only 30 percent female and 61 percent white.

The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance recently noted that all of the companies to follow adopted the formula that Google established when it kicked off the summer of diversity data reports. Someone at the company writes a blog post on the importance of diversity/outlining diversity-related initiatives that the company has undertaken; the post includes colorful graphs to cheerfully illustrate the small share of women and minorities that the company employs; and when asked for comment, executives and representatives interview requests and refer everyone back to the original blog post.

While the majority of the web and social media companies to go public with their diversity data so far have been apologetic about its relative lack of diversity (91 percent of Google’s workforce is either white or Asian), and have indeed listed off in great numbers the initiatives it has embarked upon, the organizations that it has supported, and the programs that it has partnered with to improve the industry’s diversity, only a few thoughtfully addressed the reasons behind the statistics in its reports.

Google’s report was one of the few that did, and spoke at some length about how the traditional dearth of female students and students of ethnic minorities studying computer science is a factor in the industry’s struggle to hire a balanced workforce.

A May piece by USA Today’s Elizabeth Weise called Silicon Valley the place “where the women and minorities aren’t.” She noted that of the area’s tech industry and the workforce that it employs, “It’s a funhouse mirror image of the American workforce, which is 47 percent female, 16 percent Hispanic, 12 percent African-American, and 12 percent Asian, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics … The numbers are especially astounding for California, where 38 percent of the population is Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Asians make up 14 percent of the state.”

Those numbers contrast with the gender and ethnic makeup of the workforce employed by U.S. web and social media giants, where female workers are considerably less common and racial minorities are poorly represented, with the exception of Asian workers, who are statistically the most represented group relative to share of U.S. population.

While many companies have reported demongraphic data, below are the gender and ethnic makeups of seven major companies: Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Yahoo. While there are many more we could look at, this data gives a general sense of where the industry stands: a gender split of about 70/30 male/female is common. White employees make up between 50 and 60 percent of each company’s U.S. workforce, and white and Asian employees together constitute around 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce each employs.

Though gender data is reported for each company’s global workforce, U.S. companies face legal complexities when asking about and reporting the ethnic makeup of its workforces in many countries outside of the U.S., so generally, gender statistics are global and ethnicity statistics are U.S.-only.

Next we’ll look more in-depth at how each company measures up, and what each says that it’s doing to improve the diversity of its workforce. While many educational and social initiatives are focused on increasing the numbers of women and people of racial minorities entering tech-related careers, some within the industry think that the issue is getting too much attention — that enough programs have been put into place to improve awareness and education to effect change, and it’ll simply be a matter of time before demographic data reflects a wider diversity of employees at major tech companies. 

While sharing data is a good step, it’s not as noble as these web and social media companies would like you to believe. Transparency is a good thing, but simply shedding light on a problem without acting on it, and quantifying how you’re acting on it, isn’t likely to achieve much. It will be interesting to see if the reporting of diversity data becomes a regular occurrence in Silicon Valley, with Google and Facebook disclosing such numbers yearly. Regular reporting would enable companies, investors, employees, researchers, and consumers to track the progress that’s being made in diversifying tech giants’ workforces.

One year’s numbers are interesting, but don’t offer a lot of insight into progress. While it’s not likely that any of these companies are proud of its diversity data this year, the hope is that reporting how the data has changed next year will give the industry something to be proud of.


In August, Apple revealed the makeup of its workforce with a video and a message from chief executive Tim Cook, all under the headline “Inclusion inspires innovation.” Cook wrote that while Apple believes in celebrating and investing in diversity, he’s not satisfied with the statistics on the company’s racial and gender diversity. “As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page. They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them.” Globally, Apple’s general workforce is 70 percent male and 30 percent female. Among tech employees globally, 80 percent are male and 20 percent female, and in leadership positions 72 percent are male and 28 percent female. Apple’s overall U.S. workforce is 55 percent white, 15 percent Asian, 11 percent Hispanic, 7 percent African-American, 2 percent two or more races, 1 percent other, and 9 percent reported as “undeclared.” Among its U.S. tech employees, 54 percent are white and 23 percent Asian, while those in leadership positions are 64 percent white and 21 percent Asian. “This summer marks the anniversary of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 — an opportunity to reflect on the progress of the past half-century and acknowledge the work that remains to be done,” Cook noted. He cited Apple’s pledge of $100 million to President Obama’s ConnectED initiative to bring technology into disadvantaged schools, its sponsorship of the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Women & Information Technology, but wrote, “We know we can do more, and we will.”


In June, Facebook released its diversity data in a news release titled, “Building a More Diverse Facebook.” Maxine Williams, Facebook’s global head of diversity, wrote that Facebook needs a diverse team that understands and reflects a variety of communities, backgrounds, and cultures in order for the company to successfully build products that “connect the world.” “As these numbers show, we have more work to do — a lot more,” Williams wrote. The report showed that Facebook’s workforce is 69 percent male, and 31 percent female. The company’s tech employees are 85 percent male and 15 percent female, while senior level employees are 77 percent male and 23 percent female. Meanwhile, 57 percent of Facebook’s overall U.S. workforce is white, 34 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, 3 percent two or more races, 2 percent African-American, and 0 percent other. While 53 percent of tech employees are white, 74 percent of senior level employees are. “Diversity is something that we’re treating as everyone’s responsibility at Facebook, and the challenge of finding qualified but underrepresented candidates is one that we’re addressing as part of a strategic effort across Facebook,” Williams wrote, citing partnerships with the Anita Borg Institute and the National Center for Women & Information Technology, “pipeline” programs like Girls Who Code, Code 2040, National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Management Leadership for Tomorrow, an expansion of “Facebook University” for college freshmen, and ongoing training, inclusivity, and resource groups.


In May, Google kicked off the summer of diversity data revelations with Laszlo Bock, the company’s senior vice president of people operations, blogging about how the company was “getting to work on diversity.” Bock wrote that in the past, Google was reluctant to share the statistics on the diversity of its workforce. (Many companies were, and fought for years to keep the data private by claiming the statistics constituted trade secrets.) Bock noted that, “Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.” When the company shared the racial and gender makeup of its workforce, its report revealed that Google’s global workforce is 30 percent female and 70 percent male. Among tech employees, 17 percent are female and 83 percent are male. Seventy-nine percent of those in leadership positions are male, versus the 21 percent who are female. Additionally, Google’s general U.S. workforce is 61 percent white, 30 percent Asian, 4 percent two or more races, 3 percent Hispanic, 2 percent African-American, and less than 1 percent other. Tech employees are 60 percent white and 34 percent Asian, while those in leadership positions are 72 percent white and 23 percent Asian. The report noted that, “All of our efforts, including going public with these numbers, are designed to help us recruit and develop the world’s most talented and diverse people.” “We’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be — and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution,” Bock wrote. Google sees education as one of the main reasons that the company struggles to hire women and minorities, and reported that women earn 18 percent of all computer science degrees in the U.S., while African-American students earn 8 percent of CS degrees and Hispanic students earn 6 percent. He noted Google’s commitments to improving computer science education for women and girls, and its partnerships with historically African-American colleges and universities.


In a June post on LinkedIn’s official blog, head of talent Pat Wadors reported the makeup of LinkedIn’s workforce. She said that the company had reflected on the imbalance among women and minorities represented in the tech industry and on Google’s decision to publish its diversity data, and decided that it would do the same. “Over the past few years, we’ve experienced tremendous growth and have become a truly global company, but in terms of overall diversity, we have some work to do.” The post revealed that LinkedIn’s global workforce is 61 percent male and 39 percent female. Its tech employees are 83 percent male and 17 percent female, while those in leadership positions are 75 percent male and 25 percent female. Meanwhile, the company’s U.S. workforce is 53 percent white, 38 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, 2 percent African-American, 2 percent two or more races, and less than 1 percent other. Its tech employees are 34 percent white and 60 percent Asian, while those in leadership positions are 65 percent white and 28 percent Asian. “True inclusion is something that can only be achieved through a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our member base, and this is something we strive to do in all of our hiring efforts,” Wadors wrote. She cited the company’s programs and partnerships established to achieve greater diversity, including initiatives with Year Up, the Anita Borg Institute, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and DevelopHer, and added that, “There is a cycle of responsibility associated with transparency. This is why we thought it important to publish our own numbers regarding diversity at LinkedIn — to better ensure this accountability.”


In July, Pinterest software engineer and tech lead Tracy Chou shared a blog post titled, “Diversity and Inclusion at Pinterest.” Chou wrote that Pinterest’s vision is to “help people build inspired lives,” and can improve its products by building a more diverse workforce. “We’re not close to where we want to be, but we’re working on it,” Chou said. The data that Pinterest reported is less detailed than the statistics that other companies shared, but Chou reported that across the entire company, Pinterest’s workforce is 40 percent female and 60 percent male. Among the company’s leadership, employees are 19 percent female and 81 percent male, worse even than Pinterest’s tech workforce, which is 21 percent female and 79 percent male. The general workforce is 50 percent Caucasian, 42 percent Asian, 5 percent other, 2 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent African-American, and ethnicity statistics were not broken out further for employees in tech or leadership positions. “Our vision is to help people live inspired lives — people across the world, from all walks of life,” Chou wrote. “We only stand to improve the quality and impact of our products if the people building them are representative of the user base and reflect the same diversity of demography, culture, life experiences, and interests that makes our community so vibrant.” She listed the organizations with which Pinterest partners to improve diversity in the engineering pipeline, including Girls Who Code, CODE2040, Girls Teaching Girls to Code, Anita Borg Institute, Hackbright Academy, and Out for Undergrad.


In July, Janet Van Huysse, Twitter’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, reported Twitter’s diversity data in a blog post titled, “Building a Twitter we can be proud of.” Van Huysse wrote that Twitter will be more able to achieve its goal of reaching every person on the planet with a team that understands and represents a diversity of cultures and backgrounds.

She wrote: “We are keenly aware that Twitter is part of an industry that is marked by dramatic imbalances in diversity — and we are no exception.” Her report revealed that Twitter’s overall global workforce is 70 percent male and 30 percent female. Tech employees are 90 percent male and 10 percent female, while those in leadership positions are 79 percent male and 21 percent female. The overall ethnicity of Twitter’s U.S. workforce is 59 percent white, 29 percent Asian, 2 percent African-American, 3 percent Hispanic or Latino, 1 percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, less than 1 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, 3 percent two or more races, and 2 percent other. Twitter’s U.S. tech employees are 58 percent white and 34 percent Asian, while those in leadership positions are 72 percent white and 24 percent Asian. The post noted the importance of recruiting from under-represented communities, such as women’s colleges and historically African-American colleges and universities.

“We are committed to making inclusiveness a cornerstone of our culture,” and listed Girls Who Code, Year Up, Girl Geek Dinners, Out for Tech, Technovation, Techwomen, Chime for Change, LEAD Computer Science Institute, PyLadies, and Black Girls CODE as some of the programs the company partners with or supports.


In June, Yahoo shared its diversity data in a blog post. However, unlike most of the other companies, Yahoo didn’t acknowledge that “we have some work to do,” or “we want to do better.” Instead, its release simply noted that “we are happy to join others in the tech industry in disclosing specifics around the diversity of Yahoo’s workforce,” a workforce that the post refers to as “a Yahoo team that understands and reflects our diverse user base.” Yahoo’s overall workforce is 37 percent female and 62 percent male, with an additional 1 percent identified either as other or not disclosed. Its tech workforce is 15 percent female and 85 percent female, while those in leadership positions are 23 percent female and 77 percent male. Yahoo’s U.S. workforce is 50 percent white, 39 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, 2 percent African-American, 2 percent two or more races, and 2 percent other or not disclosed. In tech positions, 35 percent of U.S. employees are white and 57 percent Asian, while those in leadership positions are 78 percent white and 17 percent Asian. The post notes that “statistics are only part of the story,” and claims that the company “works to ensure that our existing employees feel welcome and supported during their time at the company.” The post cites Yahoo’s resource groups as an important service, and notes that the company was named a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” plus earned a 100 percent Corporate Equality Index score. The post concludes: “Overall, our goal at Yahoo is to create a workplace culture that attracts and retains all talents, regardless of background, and to help our people grow to their full potential.”

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