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27 Feb 2011

Silicon Valley confronted on diversity; Black, Latino, Asian coalition holds protest at Google

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February 27, 2011 Category: Stateside Posted by:

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“Saying the Silicon Valley tech industry needs to do a better job of hiring native-born blacks, Latinos and some other minority groups, minority leaders picketed Google’s Mountain View headquarters last Thursday, asking the Internet giant and other large valley companies to disclose their workplace diversity data,” Mike Swift reported Friday for the San Jose Mercury News.

 

“The protest, organized by the Black Economic Council, the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles, and the National Asian American Coalition was sparked by a series of reports in the Mercury News last year.

 

“Hispanics and blacks, the newspaper found, made up a smaller share of the valley’s computer workers in 2008 than they did in 2000, even as their share grew across the nation.”

 

Jorge Corralejo, chairman of the Latino Business Chamber of Greater LA, told Journal-isms that the group had met with members of Congress and with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and intended to continue to press their case in those quarters.

 

Faith Bautista, president and CEO of the National Asian American Coalition, said in a news release, “On the surface, everything is well for Asian Americans at Silicon Valley since up to 50 percent of their employees are listed as Asian Americans. Sadly, up to 90 percent are improperly classified as Asian Americans but, are in fact, H-1B visa workers from abroad.”

 

The Mercury News story continued, “The protest drew about two dozen people to the Googleplex, as minority leaders criticized Google, Apple and 20 other Silicon Valley tech companies that refused to share their workforce diversity data with them. The leaders called on the federal government to review the H-1B work visa program that tech companies use to hire engineers from abroad, unless the companies comply.

 

“The groups are filing a complaint with the federal government, saying of 34 Silicon Valley tech companies from which they requested workforce data, just 12 agreed to share it. The groups are asking the government to force the companies to disclose their data. They said they singled out Google for Thursday’s protest because of its growth and visibility.”

 

As reported last year, the American Society of News Editors, recognizing that Internet companies are increasingly hiring journalists, added “online-only newspapers” to its annual diversity census of print newspapers. A Yahoo spokeswoman later told Journal-isms flatly, “We do not release our diversity statistics.”

 

The nondisclosers are not all in Silicon Valley. Huffington Post did not participate, and neither did AOL, MinnPost.com, Salon.com, Talking Points Memo (TPM Media LLC), the Daily Beast, Bloomberg or Politico. All but MinnPost.com are based on the East Coast.

 

In its news release announcing the demonstration, the groups said, “The available data demonstrates that no industry may have a worse record in California in the hiring of Blacks, Latinos, Southeast Asian Americans and women than Google, Apple and Oracle. Based on data from the 12 Silicon Valley companies that [publicly] released their EEO-1 data, the minority groups’ expert states that Google’s Black employees, for example, could be at just one percent, Latinos at two percent and women at the 20 percent level. In contrast, Stanford, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, has an entering freshman class that has 17.2 percent Latinos and 11.1 percent Blacks.

 

“Len Canty, Chairman of the Black Economic Council, said, ‘Any Silicon Valley company with less than five percent Black employees should be denied H-1B visa workers until the problem is resolved since the Black unemployment rate is 80 percent higher than that for whites.’

 

“Since up to half of some Silicon Valley companies overall employees are H-1B visa programs despite high domestic unemployment rates, the complaint urges the President’s new Job Czar, GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt, to provide a report to the President within 15 days as to the impact of the H-1B visa program on unemployed Americans.

 

“The complaint also requests that the Department of Justice secure from the US Labor Department the release of all employment data from the 22 Silicon Valley companies, led by Google and Apple, that have refused to provide data.”

 

Dana Lengkeek, a spokeswoman for Yahoo, told Journal-isms that the company would not comment on the protest but added, “We are committed to equal opportunity. We believe in hiring the best people, based on merit, potential, skill and qualifications. We comply with all applicable laws and regulations.”

 

Likewise, “In a written statement, Google said it strongly values diversity, pointing to its support of internships and scholarships with groups such as Historically Black Colleges & Universities,” Swift reported.

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