Economic worries have prompted tech giants and startups to cut costs, freeze hiring, or even begin layoffs. Those companies may end up undoing the modest progress they have made toward diversifying their workforces. Many of the roles that historically underrepresented groups are hired into tend to be seen as the most expendable, says Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
For instance, figures released by Amazon reveal that the most diverse level of the company is also the lowest. "All of [Amazon's] diversity is in their warehouse operations," Kaplan says. "Companies that have big cafeterias and things like that often are counting their cafeteria staff, and [those jobs] would be more likely to be populated by underrepresented minorities or people from lower socioeconomic groups."
Certain departments at tech companies outside engineering, such as business development, customer success, communications, and marketing, also tend to be more heavily stacked with women and historically underrepresented ethnic minorities. Mimi Fox Melton, program director at Code 2040, a nonprofit, says individuals in these roles are still more likely to face layoffs because they are seen as less essential to the business than those who develop or maintain the product.
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