Google Reveals Its Workforce Is Not Very Diverse

For the first time, Google has revealed its diversity figures, along with a pledge to do more in the future to bring in more women and minorities.

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After resisting the idea for years, Google has published the results of its workforce diversity tallies, and the picture is not as bright as the search giant would like it to be—70 percent of Google workers are men, while 61 percent of workers are white.

Only 2 percent of Google's workers are black, and only 3 percent are Hispanic. Some 30 percent of Google workers are of Asian descent.

The figures all come from Laszlo Bock, a Google senior vice president of People Operations, who revealed them in a May 28 post on the Google Official Blog.

"We've always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google," wrote Bock. "We now realize we were wrong, and that it's time to be candid about the issues. 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."

With that, Google published its diversity figures, which also included that 4 percent of its workers have multi-racial backgrounds, while 1 percent of its workers are of other backgrounds. The figures are derived from data collected in January 2014. The gender data represents Google's global workforce, while the ethnicity data applies only to Google workers in the United States, according to the post.

"There are lots of reasons why technology companies like Google struggle to recruit and retain women and minorities," wrote Bock. "For example, women earn roughly 18 percent of all computer science degrees in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics make up under 10 percent of U.S. college grads and collect fewer than 5 percent of degrees in CS majors, respectively."

To help turn those trends around, Google has been investing a lot of time and energy into education, he wrote.

"Among other things, since 2010 we've given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls," wrote Bock. "And we've been working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science. For example, this year Google engineer Charles Pratt was in-residence at Howard University, where he revamped the school's Intro to CS curriculum."

There is still much work to be done to balance the company's overall diversity in the future, wrote Bock. "But 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."

In reaction to the Google report, IT analyst Steve Duplessie of the Enterprise Strategy Group told eWEEK that instead of knocking Google for its apparent imbalances in its diversity, he applauds the company for putting the figures out there for discussion and review.

"The indictment is not on them in particular," said Duplessie. "The indictment is that IT in general is basically made up of white old men."

IT engineering departments usually have better diversity, with multi-racial, multi-gender workers who develop code, he said.

Meanwhile, in other roles "all of these IT companies are white male dominated, all of them," he said. "And I don't know why that is. That's who the workforce was in the past. Look inside any significant computing company and you see it."

That has to change, he said. "We've had 50 years of white male dominated industry, if not more," said Duplessie. "Today, we don't do things the same way, plus there are a lot more smart people out there" of every race and gender than in the past.

"Google is at least admitting it," he said. "They're at least calling themselves on the carpet to try to do something about it. They're probably way ahead of the industry as a whole, to be fair to them."

Women have for a long time been under-represented in high-tech jobs and IT management, according to an earlier eWEEK report.