Google Makes Slow Progress – Diversity Still Lagging

Google made slow progress last year in its mission to diversify its workforce.  Google is made up largely of white and Asian men. The company addressed the gender and racial imbalance in the tech industry by disclosing the demographics of its workforce about two years ago. Nancy Lee, VP of People Operations said in a blog post recently, “We saw encouraging signs of progress in 2015, but we’re still far from where we need to be.”

Women made up 31% of Google’s more than 60,000 employees last year, up from 30% in 2014. The percentage of workers in the racial groups did not move: blacks, 2%, Hispanic, 3%, biracial, 3%.  Asians rose by 1 percent to 32% of workers, while whites fell a point to 59%. The company did make some progress in 2015 as women held 24% of leadership roles which is up from 22% in 2014. Google has said its progress is slow in part because it has hired from a narrow selection of universities, and women and minorities earn a small percentage of computer-science degrees.  Nevertheless, Google has committed itself to adding more minority and female workers and have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on diversity initiatives.

For tech companies it has been difficult to make substantial demographic shifts in one or two years. There is now a sense of urgency as Google is growing beyond search advertising into other businesses in an increasingly global marketplace. Having women and underrepresented minorities brainstorming and building, not just using the products dreamed up by Google, is quickly become a necessity.

“The tech industry really understands that the future of our industry means we have to be more inclusive. We are literally building products for the world. It can’t be this homogeneous.” Lee told USA Today last year.