It's been five years since Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft first released diversity reports, revealing the companies' workforces were overwhelmingly white or Asian men. Five years since Facebook first acknowledged it had "more work to do—a lot more," and CEO Tim Cook wrote Apple employees a letter promising the company would be "as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing products."
Since then, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn and expanded in the cloud, Facebook gained roughly 1 billion monthly active users, Google achieved quantum supremacy, and Apple released the Apple Watch, Airpods, and iPhones 6s through 11. Despite their business successes, though, none of these big tech companies has made much progress in diversifying their workforces.
The numbers are particularly stark among technical workers—the coders, engineers, and data scientists who make these companies hum. At Google and Microsoft, the share of U.S. technical employees who are black or Latinx rose by less than a percentage point since 2014. The share of black technical workers at Apple is unchanged at 6 percent, less than half blacks' 13 percent share of the U.S. population.
The companies report more progress for women. But no company is close to parity, despite having repeatedly pledged millions to address the problem.
"Despite all the words, despite all the money, despite all the platitudes and initiatives, it's hard to say that the companies are really taking [the diversity issue] seriously," says Freada Kapor Klein of venture capital firm Kapor Capital and a longtime advocate for diversity in tech.
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