If you need proof that throwing money at a problem won’t fix it overnight, look no further than Silicon Valley’s longstanding issue with diversity in the workplace. Often considered today’s most desirable and lucrative career path, tech remains largely monopolized by white men who have established a brogrammer culture in San Francisco that seems difficult to penetrate. And despite the millions of dollars companies have invested in reversing this trend, progress is slow. But still, slow progress is better than no progress at all.
In 2014, Google, often considered the leader of an already “progressive” industry, swallowed its pride and admitted that when it came to workplace equality, the tech giant simply wasn’t where it needed to be. Only 3o percent of its workers were women (a percentage that shrank even further when jobs were narrowed to technical roles), and only 2 and 3 percent of its employees were of African American and Hispanic descent, respectively.
Now, one year and a lot of money later, Google hasn’t seen a significant change in its numbers. After all, institutions are hard to de- and reconstruct.
In a blog post published Monday, the company gave an overview of the progress it made over the course of the last several months. “Though we still have a long way to go,” the post reads, “we’re seeing some early progress.” But for some, this “progress” is moving at a painfully dilatory pace — while 21 percent of the company’s technical hires last year were women, this only increased the overall percentage of women in these roles by a single percentage point. And despite an increase in African American and Hispanic hiring, these minority populations are still vastly underrepresented in the company at large. In fact, on the diversity front, there has been effectively no progress, with these two demographics still making up just 2 and 3 percent of the company.
Still, Google is to be commended for the investments it has made in rectifying these issues. Since 2010, the company has spent $3 million funding Anita Borg Scholarships for women in computer science, and has continued to hire a higher and higher percentage of female software engineers year over year.
“We’ll continue to share more about our efforts externally,” Google promised, “as we work to build a workforce more reflective of the diversity of the people we serve.” And these efforts will have to move quickly, as the sad truth of the matter today is, Silicon Valley remains one of the most painful reflections of privilege in the United States.