Latino Advocates in Silicon Valley Urge Tech Companies to Up Their Game

February 17, 2016 by No Comments

Latino insiders in Silicon Valley — the epicenter of technology in America — say that after tech companies started publishing their employee diversity numbers two years ago, the tech industry is still not doing enough to ensure a diverse workplace.

In the same way that 35% of passersby wouldn’t notice a business but for clear signage, executives in the tech industry didn’t noticed the serious lack of minorities in leadership positions without a sign of their own.

It came in the form of mounting public pressure, which prompted the tech companies to reveal their diversity numbers two years ago. The figures had previously been carefully guarded. Upon their release, it was clear why — the sad reality of an industry without many women, Hispanics, or African-Americans was out on the table.

Only 4% of the 241,804 employees who work for the top tech companies (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter) are Hispanic. Twitter, notably, has no Latinos in leadership roles.

Clearly, transparency isn’t everything. Latino activists living and working in Silicon Valley say that while companies appear to be making greater efforts, and have made diversity a top priority, more could be done to reach the local Latino community.

Silicon Valley is situated in a region that is 27% Latino. An estimated 39% of the K-12 population is Latino.

Laura Gomez, CEO of Atipica, a startup offering consulting on diversity issues to tech companies, commented that “We haven’t seen a proactive effort from tech companies to recruit Latinos since they’ve released the numbers.”

Earlier this month, Apple, perhaps the most valuable and revered of the tech giants, released a report showing that it had added 24% more Hispanic workers over the past year. Eight percent of Apple’s technology jobs go to Hispanics (four times more than Google). But, the majority of the company’s Hispanic workers are considered sales workers.

Among the slight improvements, there are certainly some victories to be celebrated: Aida Alvarez was appointed to HP’s board of directors this week.

Alvarez, also a board member of Walmart, brings a lot of experience to the position. She spent 10 years as a journalist in business and finance and was the first Latina ever to hold a cabinet-level position in the federal government.

Many activists advocate for more efforts to address the the lack of opportunity in the light of oppression and financial hardship for many. Increasing access to education and encouraging minorities to pursue careers in engineering, computer science, or advanced manufacturing is important, as well as continuing to lobby the tech giants to take serious action when it comes to addressing lack of diversity.

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