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Tech Companies That Made #BlackLivesMatter Pledges Have Fewer Black Employees

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·3 min read
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(Bloomberg) -- After the murder of George Floyd last year prompted widespread protests, dozens of companies released public pledges to promote racial justice. However, their support of the Black community wasn’t reflected in the demographics of their workforces.

A new study of diversity in the technology industry found companies that made statements of solidarity had 20% fewer Black employees on average than those that didn’t. The finding highlights a gap between what companies say about social issues and what they do in their own workplaces, said Stephanie Lampkin, the founder and chief executive officer of Blendoor, which conducted the study set to be published Monday.

Blendoor, a startup that helps companies recruit a diverse group of candidates, crunched publicly available data on 240 of the most prominent tech companies. Despite the shortcomings of many companies that put out Black Lives Matter statements, the pledges could have a serious impact. Their financial commitments surpassed $4.6 billion, more than double the amount of pledges made in the previous six years combined, according to the report.

Read more: New Data Expose Precisely How White and Male Some U.S. Companies Are

Reviewing information released by companies over the past six years, Blendoor analyzed trends in workplace diversity, inclusion policies and human-resources programs, such as parental leave, flexible work arrangements and recruitment of underrepresented groups. It found, for example, that Pinterest Inc. had the most robust policies and programs for recruiting women; Mozilla Corp. had the best for recruiting underrepresented minorities. McKesson Corp. scored highest in Blendoor’s rating of supporting women in leadership, while HP Inc. tops the list for underrepresented minorities in leadership.

The analysis surfaced broader findings, as well, across hundreds of companies. Asian Americans have the widest gap between their representation in entry-level tech jobs and in leadership, and Asian-American women are the least likely to advance to executive roles. Women executives more commonly have C-level jobs that focus on areas such as HR, marketing or diversity, and those roles are among the least likely to be appointed to corporate boards. The analysis also found that 36% of board directors are women or people of color but that most of those are White women or Asian men.

Lampkin, who started coding as a teenager and holds degrees from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spent years trying to find the right technological tools to bolster diversity efforts. She founded Blendoor in 2015 as a mobile job-matching app—swiping left and right on candidates. Then, as more employers became interested in preventing unconscious bias in hiring, the app started presenting candidates in a blind setting, without pictures or names. In 2017, Blendoor started rating companies’ overall diversity efforts, using similar methodology to the latest report.

Outside of her company, Lampkin also runs a network for Black women in tech, called Visible Figures, where members trade funding, press advice, recommendations and connections. Lampkin said she’s optimistic about the push for diversity in tech given the rate of change in the last few decades but that the industry is a long way from parity. “We need all hands on deck if this is really going to change,” Lampkin said. “It has to be a paradigm shift that I don’t think is happening yet. Right now, I think it’s a lot of preaching to choirs.”

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