Race a Factor in Advancement in Silicon Valley

A new study finds that while the San Francisco Bay Area is home to one of the most heterogeneous populations in the United States, diversity in technology leadership roles has generally stagnated over the last decade.

The Ascend Foundation, a nonprofit Pan-Asian career lifecycle organization, analyzed the leadership pipeline for Silicon Valley technology companies, using publicly available data covering 2007 to 2015. All companies with 100-plus employees are required to file EEOC reports identifying workforce composition by job categories, race, and gender. Therefore, the study includes pipeline data aggregated from hundreds of companies, including Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, Twitter, Yelp, and others.
Among the study’s key findings:

  • Race is an increasingly more significant impediment than gender to climbing the management ladder, with Asian women and Hispanic women most affected.
  • Asians are the least likely to be promoted to managerial or executive positions, in spite of being the largest minority group of professionals and the most likely to be hired. In particular, Asian women are the least represented group as executives, at 66 percent underrepresentation.
  • White men and women are twice as likely as Asians to become executives and hold almost three times the number of executive jobs.
  • Even though white women are now substantially more successful in reaching the executive level than ALL minority men or women, white men are still 47 percent more likely than white women to be executives.
  • Both Blacks and Hispanics have declined in their percentage share of the professional workforce despite efforts to hire more underrepresented minorities.

“When we used the Executive Parity Index [an Ascend tool that scores a company’s diversity in its executive workforce relative to its entry-level workforce] to compare the numbers of minorities as executives to their numbers in the workforce, it was clear that efforts to promote more Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics have made no meaningful impact to the minority glass ceiling,” said Buck Gee, a former vice president and general manager at Cisco Systems who is an Ascend executive advisor and a study co-author. “That said, we saw progress made by white women, so we know tech companies can change. Now it’s time to do the same for minority men and women.”
Co-author and Ascend executive advisor Denise Peck, a former vice president at Cisco, also noted the challenges minority professionals face.
“Minority women continue to bump against a double-paned glass ceiling. The data show that a general focus on developing women leaders has not addressed the distinct challenges for Asian, Black or Hispanic women. This has been an unspoken truth in the minority community, and we hope that our report opens a long overdue dialogue. We encourage all companies to take a hard look at their minority pipeline and ask how they can do better,” said Peck.
Recruiting and hiring efforts are often not enough.
“In spite of companies investing in their recruiting and hiring of Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics, advancement to senior corporate ranks and corporate boards is still highly limited,” said Anna Mok, executive vice president and national board member of Ascend. “To make the systemic changes that positively impact and advance results, CEOs, their executive teams, and corporate boards need to actively lead change and drive solutions.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *