Information Blocked: The Racial & Gender Makeup of Google & 4 Other Tech Giants

The Obama Administration told the country on Wednesday about all of the jobs saved since the U.S. Congress passed the stimulus package one year ago. This got us to thinking about how the technology world is faring in these hard times.

Unfortunately, some of the largest technology companies in the world don’t want their story to be told. In this post we tell the story about the racial and gender makeup of technology giants in Silicon Valley; and how diversity has changed over the past several years.

Recently, federal regulators ruled in favor of five technology companies that waged an 18-month battle to block a San Jose Mercury News Freedom of Information request for employment information. The federal regulator ruled that collecting the data would cause “commercial harm” by potentially revealing the companies’ business strategy to competitors.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Google, Yahoo!, Apple, Oracle and Applied Materials argued that the race and gender of its work force is a trade secret that cannot be released.

It’s a decision that borders on the absurd. It’s unbelievable that the racial makeup and gender of a company would reveal its strategy to competitors.

We highlight this news to point out how the lack of diversity in the tech sector prevents minorities from enjoying the high salaries and benefits that come when working for large technology companies.

Plus, as the Mercury News reports, it prevents us from understanding what the civil rights legislation should be in this day and age. Technology companies like Apple did not exist back in the 1960s when civil rights legislation first passed.

The issue about diversity in the tech economy is especially relevant when you look at what communities are suffering the most during this current recession. Joblessness among blacks is twice that of whites.

The Mercury News eventually did get access to Department of Labor data and the results show how great the gap is in the Silicon Valley:

“The Labor Department data ultimately obtained by the Mercury News shows that while the collective work force of 10 of the valley’s largest companies grew by 16 percent from 1999 to 2005, an already small population of black workers dropped by 16 percent, while the number of Hispanic workers declined by 11 percent. By 2005, only about 2,200 of the 30,000 Silicon Valley-based workers at those 10 companies were black or Hispanic.

In addition, among the roughly 5,900 managers at those companies in 2005, about 300 were either black or Hispanic — a 20 percent dip from five years earlier. Women slipped to 26 percent of managers in 2005, from 28 percent in 2000.”

We look at Google, Apple and Oracle as leaders in technology development. How they fare in terms of diversity is a matter that unfortunately will be kept in the shadows under the cloak of trade secrecy.

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