Google Still Struggles To Achieve Workforce Diversity


Despite pouring millions of dollars into encouraging more women to enter the technology industry, Google still has a long way to go before it can say it is proud of its own workforce diversity.

A year after releasing its predominantly male and white workforce makeup and admitting that it was "time to be candid about the issues," Google is moving a tiny bit closer to achieving diversity in its own ranks by hiring more women, African-Americans and Hispanics, although not enough to make a statistically significant improvement.

In its latest diversity report, Google admits there is a lot more work to be done but it is "seeing some early progress," even though the overall number of women workers in the technical field rose by only 1 percent while blacks and Hispanics saw a small 2 percent and 3 percent rise respectively.

"Early indications show promise, but we know that with an organization our size, year on year growth and meaningful change is going to take time," says Nancy Lee, vice president of people operations at Google, in a statement sent to the Washington Post. "There isn't a simple solution to solving the diversity challenges our company and industry faces, which is why we're convinced over the long run to work that spans efforts."

Last year, Google poured some $150 million on its initiative to promote greater diversity in the technology industry, which is rapidly becoming a major player in the global economy and is seen as one of the best models for employee benefits. These investments include $3 million placed in Anita Borg scholarships to help young girls and women complete programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Google is also working with Hollywood to change the perception of the computer engineer as the typical male, white Silicon Valley tech geek who wears glasses and rides scooters. Also, Google is embedding its engineers as instructors and consultants in historically black colleges and universities to push black students to take up careers in technology.

For all its efforts, however, Google remains largely white and male, with 60 percent of its 56,000 global workforce made of whites and 31 percent of Asians. Still, Google is moving the diversity needle, albeit at a snail's pace, with 22 percent of all software engineers hired at campuses being women, outpacing the number of young women who are taking computer science degrees.

In non-technical fields, Google is making the same slow progress, with the percentage of African Americans going up from 3 percent to 4 percent. Hispanics remain at 4 percent, though, but women retain a good portion of the non-technical workforce with 47 percent.

Photo: Women's eNews | Flickr

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