The most powerful African American politicians in the US will next week demand that Silicon Valley companies hire more black people after official figures revealed that many of the world’s most prominent tech companies’ workforces are just 2% black.
GK Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), will meet with executives at Apple and Google in Silicon Valley on Monday and Tuesday to tell them to “implement a diversity plan that will place more African Americans in the tech pipeline”.
Butterfield, who will be joined by all members of the CBC Diversity Task Force, has described diversity at Silicon Valley companies track records on diversity as “appalling” and their bosses as “not inclusive”.
African Americans represent less than 1.5% of Facebook’s 5,479 US employees. Mark Zuckerberg’s company hired 36 black employees last year out of a total headcount increase of 1,216. In 2013, Facebook hired just seven additional black people, including just one black woman.
Twitter employs just 49 black people out of a total US workforce of 2,910. The tiny number of African American staff – 35 men and 14 women – represents just 1.7% of Twitter’s US staff.
African Americans account for 13.6% of the US population, according to the 2010 US census.
Spokespeople for Twitter and Facebook did not explain why executives from the companies are not meeting with the CBC task force next week. However, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, did recently meet with Butterfield in Washington DC. She also wrote a blogpost saying the company would do more to address “unconscious bias” against black people.
Butterfield said: “Our goal for this trip is to encourage and partner with these organizations to implement a diversity plan that will place more African Americans in the tech pipeline. This will potentially lead to a wide range of opportunities, from student internships to positions on the boards of tech companies. Building a coalition of leaders from the public and private sectors ensures greater diversity and full representation of African Americans at every level of tech by 2020.”
He has previously said: “Many of the technology companies have African Americans as very loyal customers, and many of those don’t have any African Americans on their boards. Their senior leadership within many of these companies is not inclusive, and the workforce is appalling. And their reinvestment in African American communities is less than desirable.”
This article was written by Rupert Neate in New York, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th July 2015 19.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010