NPR reports on some of the largest tech companies in the silicon valley withholding their diversity numbers for what they claim to be competitive reasons. This might lead you to think that these companies have good diversity numbers (meaning an increase of under represented minority populations in their employee base). But I that really, companies with declining diversity numbers don’t want to release them because, as their diverse populations decrease, they are worried that competitor companies will start to pick off their folks that are considered under-represented. Because the declining numbers represent a more complex and serious problem: that many American companies, including technology companies where you would expect us to do better because of shifting international talent pools, don’t have corporate cultures that are truly inclusive.
Having a diversity program is one thing but being a truly diverse company is another. Sometimes the former can have a good amount of impact on the latter. Sometimes, not so much. In the NPR story, the reporter leads off with the concept of the “talent pipeline.” This is totally the space I live in; creating programs, doing talent landscape research and teaching recruiters how to use technologies and practices to do a better job of pipelining (in case you ever wondered what the heck it is that I do anyway). I’m not surprised that pipelining is the focus of the story; it’s what most people think of when you talk about diversity numbers. And I’m not targeting any companies in specific. What I am talking about is industry-wide (though I do find the withholding of the numbers very curious).
I would really like to see more companies focus on adjusting their company environments to be comfortable to a broader range of backgrounds and cultures. And I’d like this to go beyond training programs. Where’s the accountability?
PS: probably a good time to mention that this is my opinion and my opinion doesn’t necessarily represent that of Microsoft. Because there are other people here that have jobs focused totally on diversity, and I am sure that they have never called to ask me to speak on their behalf.