Google owns up to lack of diversity

© 2013 Bloomberg Finance LP

Google (GOOG) has released its own workplace diversity statistics for the first time, and the results aren’t pretty.

In a Wednesday blog post titled “Getting to work on diversity at Google,” the company revealed an unfortunate, but unsurprising fact: Most of its employees are white males. Women make up only 30% of workforce at the company and they represent only 17% of its tech workers. Google’s leadership is even more skewed toward men, who make up 79% of that group.

More information also made available online shows the company’s employees are 61% white, while 30% are Asian, 3% are Hispanic and 2% are black. Four percent are of two or more races.

Google said its gender data represent its global workforce of 46,000, but the ethnicity statistics are drawn only from the U.S.

Google’s demographic data is likely to add fuel to the debate over the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson recently called on the technology industry to close the racial and gender divide after he attended shareholder meetings at Google, Facebook (FB) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). He asked that they all disclose demographic information about their employees. So far, Facebook and H.P. have not done so.

In the blog post, Google senior vice president of people operations, Laszlo Bock, said the company had previously been reluctant to publish its diversity info, but now “it’s time to be candid about the issues.” He writes: “Put simply, 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.”

Bock cited various statistics in noting that it is difficult for Google and other tech companies to recruit women and minorities because those groups earn a far lower percentage of computer science degrees than their white male counterparts. He added that Google has “given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls” while also working to improve the computer science curriculum at historically black schools such as Howard University. He also wrote that “we’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be” and that transparency is an important step toward improving diversity.


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