Six years ago, a wave of tech companies including Apple (AAPL), Twitter (TWTR), eBay (EBAY), and LinkedIn began revealing data on the diversity of their workforces. The information, which had previously been kept closely guarded, was released after increased pressure for transparency as their fortunes and influence swelled.
The data was sobering for a group celebrated for innovation and progress. Companies like Facebook proclaimed that “diversity is essential to achieving our mission” and Google admitted it was “miles from where we want to be.
“In the years since, many tech companies set diversity goals, applied the “Rooney Rule” to ensure diverse candidates were being considered for some roles, implemented unconscious bias training, and pledged donations to organizations working to get more women and minorities into STEM fields. Despite those efforts, the diversity reports showed again and again that the industry remained miles away from where it should be.
Now, like much of Corporate America, Silicon Valley faces renewed scrutiny over how its public support for racial justice compares with its treatment of race and diversity in the workplace. Against that backdrop, tech companies are once again making a similar flurry of diversity-related announcements.
“It is tempting to say this time feels different,” said Leslie Miley, an engineering leader who has worked at tech companies including Twitter, Slack, and Google and has been outspoken about his experiences in the industry as a Black man. “People are talking about the root cause this time — structural, systemic racism,” he added. “I just don’t know if White people have the resilience to stick with it.”