The Silicon Valley Diversity Numbers Nobody Is Proud Of

Photographer: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Google software engineers at the Google Kirkland offices on Oct. 28, 2009 in Kirkland, Washington. More than 350 employees work in the Kirkland facility, which includes amenities such as a climbing wall, gym and soda fountain, and consolidates several offices throughout Kirkland. Close

Google software engineers at the Google Kirkland offices on Oct. 28, 2009 in Kirkland,... Read More

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Photographer: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Google software engineers at the Google Kirkland offices on Oct. 28, 2009 in Kirkland, Washington. More than 350 employees work in the Kirkland facility, which includes amenities such as a climbing wall, gym and soda fountain, and consolidates several offices throughout Kirkland.

Silicon Valley likes numbers. One billion users, 9 million iPhones, a billion Androids, 3.5 billion interactions.

But not these numbers: Silicon Valley's largest companies have been releasing their workforce diversity data for the first time, always with the caveat that the results are nothing to be happy about. Apple is the latest to put out racial and gender diversity information, and Tim Cook wrote in a letter accompanying today's report: "As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page."

A note of discontent is practically boilerplate for these reports. Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, wrote in a blog post that opened the diversity-disclosure floodgates: "Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity." Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told USA Today: "We have a long way to go." Twitter's statement emphasized that the entire industry is "marked by dramatic imbalances in diversity—and we are no exception."

Nobody forced these companies to release the data, though some have tried. Apple, Google and other tech companies waged an 18-month battle with the San Jose Mercury News over diversity disclosures, the newspaper reported in 2010. Besides the big four tech companies, Yahoo and EBay are among those that have disclosed recently, and their numbers weren't as bad.

But the industry has set a low bar. Now that we have a standard set of data, we can compare just how lacking the tech industry's hottest companies are in certain areas of their workforces. Gender is split about 70-30 globally, in favor of men, at Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Racial data were only disclosed for the U.S., where Hispanics and blacks together make up 9 percent on average at these four companies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Apple is ahead of the pack, but it's the only company that employs thousands of retail employees.

In tech jobs specifically, the diversity breakdown is expectedly worse. Women have 16 percent of those jobs on average at Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter worldwide. Hispanics and blacks comprise 6 percent combined in the U.S. Few people would argue with the tech executives — these numbers aren't good.

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