Silicon Valley's number of black and Latino employees in decline, study reveals

White men and women dominate managerial positions in Silicon Valley, despite Asians outnumbering them at entry level 

Shafi Musaddique
Wednesday 04 October 2017 16:40
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Black men and women are finding more promotions into middle management than their Asian counterparts, but there has been an overall decline between 2007 and 2015
Black men and women are finding more promotions into middle management than their Asian counterparts, but there has been an overall decline between 2007 and 2015

Black and Latino representation in Silicon Valley has declined in the past decade, whilst Asians are the least likely among all races to be promoted to a managerial and executive level job, according to new research into discrimination at US technology firms.

The report by Ascend Foundation, a non-profit organisation for Asian professionals in the US, found that despite Asians outnumbering white workers in entry-level jobs, white men and women were twice as likely to find themselves promoted to a higher-level job.

Asian women faced even greater challenges in getting to the top and are the the least likely of all combined gender and race groups to become executives.

Black men and women are finding more promotions into middle management than their Asian counterparts, but the research revealed an overall decline in black representation at managerial level between 2007 and 2015.

This could damage future diversity in executive-level jobs, the report’s authors warned.

The number of black executives rose 43 per cent and Latino executives by 24 per cent in the same period.

The report criticises suggestions that Silicon Valley has already solved its “Asian diversity issue” and concluded that “the widely-held notion of Asian executive success is largely an illusion”.

The Ascent Foundation further concluded that Silicon Valley has made “little progress in its ability to attract a more diverse workforce or promote more racial diversity in its leadership community”.

Maria Martinez, president of global customer success, Salesforce and Salesforce Latin America, welcomed the report as an opportunity for business leaders to develop underrepresented professionals in the technology sector.

“Every single person in a leadership role who is a member of an underrepresented population must step forward and mentor and provide future talent with the opportunity to see and understand that there are success stories, and that it is possible to grow, succeed, and lead”, she said.

Ms Martinez said the technology industry “needs to bring up the numbers of women in technology full stop” and stressed the importance of initiatives to bring in Latino workers.

“We need to develop a pipeline of future Latino leaders, as well as promote more examples of successful Latino leaders and hold them up as examples in the tech industry”.

Tech executives have come under fire from Silicon Valley conservatives for their perceived favouritism of hiring women and minorities. Google fired an engineer in August after a leaked 10-page memo claiming efforts to fast-track women in tech companies are “misguided and biased”.

The UK fares little better on ethnic diversity in boardrooms at FTSE 100 businesses. A report in August found that the UK’s top businesses are less ethnically diverse than they were in 2014.

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