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October 19, 2017

A new study from Reveal, the publishing platform of the Center for Investigative Reporting, offers an essential look at the ways that technology companies collect and report diversity data, and how what they leave out – which is pretty much everything – continues to mask the problems of inclusion.

Reveal asked 211 of the biggest Bay Area-based tech firms for copies of their government-mandated EEO-1 reports as part of an ongoing analysis of diversity data in the sector. Of the 211, only 23 complied, and one of those turned out to be inaccurate.

From their report:

Still, the 23 reports represent the largest public collection of EEO-1 figures that name Silicon Valley tech companies. A few private companies – Pinterest, 23andMe, View and Clover Health – released their raw numbers for the first time. So did public companies Square, a payment processing platform, and MobileIron, which specializes in mobile security. Chipmaker Nvidia also released its latest report exclusively to Reveal.

Most others – including name brands such as Dropbox, Instacart, Netflix, PayPal, Pandora Media, Reddit and Tesla – still resist or put out basic pie charts that can be misleading, difficult to verify and impossible to compare. Three companies the federal government has accused of discriminatory hiring – Oracle, Palantir Technologies and Splunk – also failed to disclose their demographics.

For tech firms that did disclose, the numbers were particularly stark for executives. Twitter, Square and 23andMe did not report a single black, Latino or multiracial executive in 2016. Female executives who were black, Latina or multiracial were nonexistent at eight of the 23 companies, including Adobe Systems, Google and Lyft.

Bottom line, fear of lawsuits and bad press means that diversity reports continue to be largely information-free exercises in pie charts and massaged figures. “A lawyer can make pretty much anything look pretty good,” said Pat Gillette, a lawyer and speaker on gender diversity.

And if you do get any numbers, then the canary in the coal mine are women of color. “Women of color experience the most bias and most marginalization,” says Erica Joy Baker, now of Patreon. “That’s a good metric for people to see and know, especially if you’re using those data points to see where you’re going to work.”

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On Point

Fortune has a new list you're going to like
Fortune debuts a new franchise today, the Fortune Future 50 list of innovative U.S. companies best poised for breakout growth. It's really two lists, Leaders, companies with market value above $20 billion and Challengers, who fall below the $20 billion benchmark. I'll be digging into the data looking for inclusion trends, but it's worth noting that the lead Leader is Salesforce, a company that has made equity and equality a global mission and talking point. Spend some time with Adam Lashinsky's great profile of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, a seasoned technologist who has made inclusion and philanthropy as important as top-line business growth.
Fortune
Stop blaming women, says Washington Post essayist
If you've got it in you to read one more essay on the subject of sexual harassment, please make it Alexandra Petri's. In it, she eloquently reminds men that their impulses are not inevitable, they are not out of control, they are not the weather. And we turn ourselves inside out telling women that they are. "Instead of saying, ‘Do not go around lighting people on fire,' we are telling women, ‘Don't be flammable.'" That we all have stories, sometimes awful, sometimes less so is exhausting, she says. Then, when you're done, brace yourself and read the comments.
Washington Post
Marc Faber's racist screed is not enough to get him banned from the speaker's circuit
Faber, who is a Thailand-based investor, wrote some words in his investment newsletter "The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report." The words were quite pointed. "Thank God white people populated America, and not the blacks. Otherwise, the U.S. would look like Zimbabwe, which it might look like one day anyway, but at least America enjoyed 200 years in the economic and political sun under a white majority." While the remarks got him fired from three boards, he expresses no remorse because free speech, etc. He's still scheduled to appear at a World Wealth Creation Conference 2017, because organizers believe that even racists understand how markets work and what can you do?
Fortune
Frank Ocean wins the defamation suit his father filed against him
Last year, Ocean wrote in a Tumblr post that his father had referred to a transgender server as a "faggot" when the singer was a child, and then dragged him from the restaurant. The post, worth revisiting now, was a heartfelt call to end anti-LGBTQ hate. "Many hate us and wish we didn't exist," he wrote. "Many don't see anything wrong with passing down the same old values that send thousands of kids into suicidal depression each year." The incident marked the last time Ocean saw his father. A judge dismissed Calvin Cooksey's $14.5 million suit on Tuesday, saying that there was no proof of defamation or lost opportunity as a result of Ocean's post.
Buzzfeed
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The Woke Leader

Let's all celebrate Diwali this year, shall we?
Happy Diwali everyone! Did you know that the Ramayana, the epic tale at the heart of the Hindu Diwali celebration, is partly about a once-kidnapped princess named Sita, and her very public defiance of patriarchy and refusal to allow her reputation to be questioned? To prove she was still pure after the kidnapping, she was forced to literally walk through fire. And then the story gets better. "In this age-old epic, it is made very clear that even the most patient of women have their limits," explains Sujatha Shenoy. This piece (published last year) also weaves in an analysis of then-candidate Trump's attempt to woo Hindu voters, a narrative I had missed.
Quartz
Baratunde Thurston met a Nazi on vacation
Here's the tl;dr: When you're a black, woke, brilliant writer and humorist on a U.K. vacation with your white girlfriend and her lovely white father and you run into a lightly inebriated Nazi with a violent past and an active interest in making a pilgrimage to the U.S. to visit the ancestral home of the KKK, then you are no longer on vacation. And there was a bigger price to pay. "For days after, I saw heightened threats everywhere. I lost my patience, and for a while, I lost my smile. Instead of enjoying myself, I was suspicious of everything," he writes. A must read.
Medium
Some notes on the heartlessness of bureaucrats
Bernardo Zacka spent eight months as a volunteer receptionist at a publicly funded anti-poverty agency to observe his colleagues as background for a book about state-funded public service. This story is worth your time for that fact alone. The agency helps low-income families apply for assistance like food stamps and early childhood education programs. But rather than operating as cogs in a machine, Zacka found that the bureaucrats had an enormous amount of discretion and were forced into value-laden decisions that had enormous consequences. "When one is dealing with vulnerable clients, erring on one side or the other can make the difference between someone having food on the table, a safe place to sleep, and a bit of dignity left or not," he writes. Bureaucratic work is soul-sucking, but not in ways you might expect.
The Atlantic
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As a young child, I felt that the Indian part of me was unacknowledged and therefore somehow negated, by my American environment, and vice versa. I felt that I led two very separate lives. Alternatively, if I say I'm from India, a place where I was not born and have never lived, this is also inaccurate. It bothers me less now. But it bothered me growing up, the feeling that there was no single place to which I fully belonged.
—Jhumpa Lahiri
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