Silicon Valley Leadership Group launches initiative to diversify executive roles by 25%

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Program launched in Silicon Valley to diversify executive roles
Silicon Valley's tech leadership group is challenging its members to address the near absence of minorities in executive roles.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Silicon Valley's tech leadership group is challenging its members to address the near absence of minorities in executive roles. The changing workplace is an important part of Building A Better Bay Area.

Every tech company in Silicon Valley talks about diversity and inclusion. However, the percentage of the minority workforce has been mostly in single digits for the past five years.

For example, the percentage of Blacks in executive roles at Alphabet, Apple, Cisco and Facebook range from 3.5% to as low as less than 1%. These are statistics filed with the federal government in 2018, the latest available.

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  • Alphabet: 12 out of 357 executives (3.4%)
  • Apple: 1 out of 123 executives (0.8%)
  • Cisco: 5 out of 285 executives (1.75%)
  • Facebook: 32 out of 1053 executives (3%)

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, whose members include a wide cross-section of tech companies, has announced an initiative called "25 x 25" that seeks to increase by 25% minority executives by 2025.

"What exciting to me about 25 x 25 is it's an opportunity with data to clearly tie our hiring decisions, our leaders from diverse backgrounds, to the revenue, the profitability, the innovation, and market share of our companies," said Ahmad Thomas, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

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It won't be easy, says the CEO of Black Tech Jobs, which matches employees to tech firms.

"I'll be candid, David, it's not going to be easy," said Will McNeil. "But nothing that Silicon Valley has built has ever been easy."

McNeil as well as the Leadership Group believe the four-year goal is ambitious but needed.

"I don't know that you go from 2% of your employees in meaningful roles, especially if you're talking about leadership roles, to 25% without some major changes," noted McNeil.

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Diversifying the executive ranks implies there are candidates in the pipeline, ready to move up. However, training may be essential as some have hit a mid-career glass ceiling.

"They find themselves in the same role for over a decade, and their careers are not advancing," said McNeil. "They're not sure what to do or how to do it."

The Leadership Group says it will seek input from community and social justice groups to develop its action plan. A diversity summit is planned for Feb. 19.

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