Big tech has talked the talk but according to a new report, they haven’t been walking the walk when it comes to DEI promises.
For years, Silicon Valley and beyond has been largely white male dominated, with only 3% of the industry made up of Black workers. Because of this, big promises were made over the last years from companies like Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple to work towards promoting diversity—but it looks like their efforts have fallen short.
The Kapor Center, a nonprofit addressing racial inequities in STEM education and the tech industry, in partnership with the NAACP, released their 2022 report titled State of Tech Diversity: The Black Tech Ecosystem.
According to the organizations, “progress towards racial equity is not only stalled but in many respects, regressing, throughout each phase of the tech pipeline.”
They point out that the pipeline to tech opportunities that big tech said they would work to build for Black students has not happened. For instance, advanced computer science (CS) courses, highly qualified teachers from diverse backgrounds at the same rates as their white and Asian peers are still stunted. This is staggering since Black students make up 15% of the K-12 population. They only comprise just 6% of students taking advanced placement CS.
“The NAACP believes that diversity in tech is a modern civil rights issue, and we cannot afford to be indifferent to the unsettling statistics presented in this report.” said Dr. Ivory Toldson, Director of Education Innovation and Research at NAACP in a news release. “But more importantly, the call to action and recommendations in the report provide a compelling case for a comprehensive, cradle-to-career, approach to increasing the number and capacity of Black people in tech.”
The report rightfully connects this early inequity to later implications—-only 8% of Bachelor’s degrees conferred in CS were earned by Black graduates, a decrease since 2016.
“The consequences of inaction in the tech industry are significant for Black communities,” said Dr. Allison Scott, CEO of the Kapor Center in the news release. “Technological advancement continues to drive our economy and transform the nature of work, and the exclusion of Black talent from this sector impacts innovation, product creation, economic mobility, and is a significant driver of inequality. One-off solutions have not worked. It is time to invest in long-term structural solutions.”