Google has had more trouble diversifying its workforce than its computer scientists have had writing programs that respond to search requests in the blink of an eye or designing cars that can navigate traffic
without a human behind the wheel.
That seemed to be the conclusion when the Silicon Valley giant this week issued a gender and ethnic breakdown of its workforce that showed that of its 26,600 U.S. employees, 61 percent are white, 30 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black. Thirty percent of its employees are women.
"Google is miles from where we want to be," said Laszlo Bock, head of personnel at Google.
Why is one of the most innovative, dynamic sectors of the U.S. economy looking like the corporate world of the past, at least when it comes to blacks, Hispanics and women?
The biggest factor is a shortage of such students majoring in computer science or other technical fields in college, according to Bock.
"There is an absolute pipeline problem," he said in an interview Wednesday with "PBS Newshour."
One year, Google says, there were just two black people in the U.S. with newly minted doctorates in computer science on the job market. The company hired one of them, and Microsoft hired the other, according to Bock.
But the educational choices of some minorities don't entirely account for the lack of diversity at technology companies.
For instance, Google sells $50 billion in advertising annually, a task that required more than 2,900 salespeople in the U.S. as of last August. Just 79 of them, or 3 percent, were black. A total of 127, or 4 percent, were Hispanic. More than 2,000, or about 70 percent, were white.
Google attributes this phenomenon to "unconscious biases" that have historically favored white people. "We like people who are like us, who watch the same shows, who like the same food, who have the same backgrounds," Bock told PBS.
To address this issue, Google has put more than 20,000 employees through 90-minute training sessions during the past year to help them become more aware of their biases.
Google is also trying to do more recruiting at colleges with large minority enrollments. During the past year, Google has dispatched a specialist to work with historically black Howard University to draw up a curriculum that will give its graduates a better chance of competing for technology jobs against the likes of MIT. The program will be extended to five other colleges this fall. (continued...)
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Parent of a college stude:
Posted: 2014-06-06 @ 6:30am PT
What Affirmative Action program is the college professor talking about. Those have all been outlawed. With African Americans and Latinos being the highest users of broadband technology, there is no excuse for Google not having a more diverse workforce. It is just good business. If Google does improve, the market will respond.
A college professor:
Posted: 2014-06-03 @ 8:05am PT
Part of the answer is our affirmative action program is hurting minorities. Take an average African-American high school graduate whose test scores indicate he should do well at the local college. Since he is African-American, he get admitted to a much tougher and better state university where most of the other students have better scores. He can't compete there and either fails out or passes due to soft expectations - neither of which help him. If he had just gone to the appropriate college, he would have a been a competitive student and done quite well. As long as we have old-fashioned affirmative action programs, we will continue to handicap minorities in college.