Silicon Valley companies face minority hiring complaints

February 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Silicon Valley high tech firms are on the hot seat over accusations that they're not hiring enough minorities. Three non-profit groups targeted Google for a protest because it wouldn't provide a breakdown of its workforce by race or ethnicity.

"The only way we can solve the problem is finding out what is your employment, what is your diversity? Then we can figure out are you really doing the right job? Are you really serving the community?" said Faith Bautista from the National Asian American Coalition.

Twelve out of 34 high tech companies did respond, including Cisco, eBay and Intel. The numbers indicate African-Americans are only 3 percent of workers, while making up 7 percent of the state's population. Latinos made up 4 percent of the workforce, yet they are 38 percent of the state population. Companies reported half of their work force was Asian-American, while making up 20 percent of the Bay Area population.

Professor James Lai, Ph.D., director of ethnic studies at Santa Clara University, says it appears foreign workers on H1B visas were aggregated with Asian-Americans.

"These are high-tech workers typically from China and India into the Asian American U.S. born sample, and that is in some ways misleading when we're focusing, this report is focusing on the hiring of U.S. workers, domestic workers, that becomes a problem," said Lai.

The findings bolster efforts by Silicon Valley leaders to train and recruit more minority workers. Shellye Archambeau is CEO of Metricstream in Palo Alto. We interviewed her via Skype from Washington, D.C.

"We are leaders in so many ways, but it's just disappointing that when it comes to harnessing the knowledge, the skills, the creativity that comes from a broad base of people that we're not leaders when it comes to building diverse teams," said Archambeau.

Google Global Communications representative Jordan Newman responded, saying that "...a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures means better products for our users. That's why we have an inclusive work environment and constantly promote diversity at Google."

All three groups behind the study are based outside the Bay Area.

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