Diversity and the High Tech Industry
6 Ala. Civ. Rts. & Civ. Lib. L. Rev. (2014 Forthcoming)
31 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
This symposium asks us to look at race and gender inequality fifty years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The twenty-first century battle lines will not be about eliminating “blacks need not apply” advertisements, or making obsolete separate drinking fountains. Given how that type of public and explicit discrimination is rarely tolerated, racism and sexism have mutated into more subtle and socially acceptable forms that may be eradicated in part when we address implicit or unconscious bias. Laws that were effective at eradicating explicit racism have proven to be quite ineffective at combating unconscious bias.
Recent newspaper accounts have highlighted the lack of Blacks and Latinos working in high tech firms as well as serving on their boards of directors based on the firms self-disclosure of such data. Not surprisingly, those articles reach the same conclusion because they are based upon the same bleak facts: a majority of workers in the high tech industry are white and male as is the majority of those in leadership and executive positions along with members of the boards of directors. As a general proposition, the executives of the high tech companies express distress at their diversity employment data, and all desire to improve in the future. They acknowledge the “pool problem” and the racial skills gap which becomes obvious when looking at college graduates with the technical skills required by the industry. The industry argues that the pool of applicants with the requisite technical skills are overwhelmingly white males which leads to very few Black and Latino graduates or White women who can code or have other skills that the high tech firms need. That in turn leads to non-diverse hiring pools for open positions which merely perpetuates the lack of racial and gender diversity in the workforce.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation