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Google Vows to Improve Diversity, Discloses Staff Makeup

Employees walk past Google Inc. signage while arriving for work in Mountain View, California, U.S. Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

Google Inc. turned the spotlight onto the diversity of its workforce, saying that the composition of its staff “is not where it needs to be.”

Women make up 30 percent of employees, while 91 percent of workers are either white or Asian, the Mountain View, California-based company said yesterday in a blog post, which provided the first detailed look at Google’s staffing.

Diversity is becoming more of key issue in Silicon Valley. Apple Inc., facing behind-the-scenes pressure from some shareholders to add more female directors and executives, added language to a board committee charter vowing to diversify its board. Social-networking companies Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. were criticized leading up to their initial public offerings for not having any female directors. Facebook, Twitter and Google all have women on their boards.

“This is a challenge to the Silicon Valley,” said Irina Raicu, director of the Internet ethics program at Santa Clara University. “While this was an important step forward, it doesn’t mean that Google should just sit back now.”

Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, wrote in the post that Google was wrong to hold back on publishing numbers on the diversity of its workforce.

“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 wrote.

Bock also highlighted the lack of qualified minority and female technology experts, citing a U.S. Department of Education study that found women earn just 18 percent of computer-science degrees in the U.S., and that blacks and Hispanics collect fewer than 5 percent of computer-science degrees.

“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 said.

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