Racial Prejudice in Silicon Valley widens


Recent findings have found that people of colour are still widely marginalized and denied career opportunities in Silicon Valley over the past decade. The research from not-for-profit organisation Ascend Foundation examined official employment data between 2007 to 2015 and found that Black and Latino representation has declined in Silicon Valley, and while Asians are hired the most out of minorities, they are the least likely to be promoted.

This new research comes at a time when Silicon Valley has seen successive scandals over discrimination. Much of the debate has been centered around sexual harassment and misogyny in the primarily white male-dominated industry. Google has tried to make gains on making their company more diverse but its statistics taken over a year show that “59% of Google employees are white, while 32% are Asian, 3% are Hispanic, and 2% are black.” Google also earlier this year faced controversy when a 10 page “manifesto” was leaked, where a Google software engineer stated that lack of gender equality in the company was due to the innate differences between men and women, and stating that “distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”

While Asians makes up the largest racial group in the industry and even outnumber white people at the entry-level, the study “found that Asians were the least likely among all races to become managers and executives, and that Asian women in particular were the least likely to earn executive roles.” This new data, counters the stereotype that Asians are overrepresented in Silicon Valley, such as comments made by Steven Bannon, who previously served as the chief strategist to President Trump, and faced backlash last year when he made comments that there were too many Asian tech CEOs.

Blacks and Latinos over the decade have in fact seen their numbers decline according to the report. The report shows that there has been in an increase in black executives, there has been an 18% drop in the number of black managers. Also, the number of black women in the industry had declined by 13% Latinos have seen their overall representation decline from 5.2% to 4.8%, though there has been an increase in Latino executives.

These findings in American tech companies correlates with the same problems that the UK is facing with the lack of BME representation in the highest posts of UK society. Operation Black Vote project the Color of Power shows that only 3.4% of the 1,000 most senior post in the UK are held by BME people. While those in the tech hub have argued that they are making progress on racial diversity, the facts show that this is not the case. This new data enforces the need for companies to refocus on their hiring practices, but also on the inclusion and retention efforts to make sure that minorities stay at companies and prosper within that company.


Zak Ott OBV Intern