In a one-and-a-half year long investigation, CNNMoney probed 20 of the most influential technology companies in the U.S., CNNMoney's Julianne Pepitone reports.
What they found: racial minorities and women are generally underrepresented in management roles. And those roles are typically dominated by white and Asian men.
But CNNMoney had to jump through lots of hoops to get that data.
"Our investigation demonstrated how difficult -- and sometimes impossible -- gaining any insight into Silicon Valley's employee diversity can be," Pepitone writes. "It shows a general lack of transparency in an industry known for its openness."
In CNNMoney's first attempt, they asked 20 tech companies for information about the race and sex makeup of their staff. But only three complied: Dell, Ingram Micro, and Intel.
In an attempt to get information from the remaining 17 companies, CNNMoney filed a Freedom of Information Act request. Their first request to the Equal Opportunity Commission was denied because it's legally prohibited to release that diversity data.
So CNNMoney refiled the FOIA request to the Department of Labor. About a year later, CNNMoney received the information, but only for five companies: Cisco, Dell, eBay, Ingram Micro, and Intel.
That's because the Labor Department can't release that information for companies that are not federal contractors. That meant CNNMoney couldn't access diversity data for Amazon, Facebook, Groupon, Hulu, LinkedIn, LivingSocial, Netflix, Twitter, Yelp, and Zynga.
And companies that are federal contractors are still able to block their data from being released. Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Microsoft all successfully petitioned the Department of Labor from releasing their data, saying that it would cause "competitive harm," Pepitone writes.
"It's absolutely preposterous," John Sims, a FOIA expert and law professor at the University of the Pacific, told Pepitone. "Knowing how many white male sales workers a company has is a trade secret? Absurd."
More From Business Insider