Silicon Valley is a trendsetter for many aspects of business today. From inventing and using the best computers to creating new models through data, the ways that Silicon Valley works is often emulated by others across the world.
When we are talking about technology and new ways of approaching problems, it is almost always ahead of the curve, when we are talking about equality though, it is well behind the times.
The truth is that racial minorities are hugely under-represented at some of the most high tech companies in the world and are well behind the older and stuffier industries when it comes to diversity. A prime statistic for this is that there are only seven black people on Pinterest’s 450-person payroll. Only 11% of Silicon Valley executives are women and only 20% of software developers are female.
It is not only in the numbers in work where inequality exists. The gender pay gap is pronounced throughout the US, men on average earn 48% more than women, in Silicon Valley this number rises to 61%.
When you think of the power players in the tech world, the major CEOs are almost exclusively men, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel. In fact the only well known female CEO is Marissa Mayer at Yahoo!. There was even sexism rife with her recently when she came back to work after only two weeks off after giving birth to her first child.
However, this is something that some companies have realized and are taking steps to rectify.
Code 2040 are one of these companies and through their work they are attempting to change this situation through free training programmes for black and latino college engineering students.
To help with this Google has given $775,000 to help set up the scheme.
It is telling that they helped to fund this after their first diversity report last year found that around two thirds of their staff are men and 60% are white. It certainly makes for uncomfortable reading for one of the world’s most respected companies, especially one who’s slogan is ‘Don’t be evil’.
The problem is not isolated to Silicon Valley though, it is something seen in the tech industry throughout the world.
In the UK, companies like Decoded are looking to empower women to reach their potential at tech companies through teaching code and technology engineering. It is something that we are seeing more frequently throughout the world as the power of high tech and online companies increases and the potential for career progression grows within the industry.
The kind of work being done by decoded and Code 2040 are unfortunately necessary, but with companies appearing to support them, hopefully this problem can be fixed. It certainly needs to, as recent reports have claimed that as few as 4% of engineers at Twitter, Google and Facebook at either Black or Latino, and only 20% of all jobs being held by women.