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Silicon Valley Investment in Diversity: Don’t Forget Low-Wage Workers

Written by admin on . Posted in Americas, Marketing

Photo credit: Paul Sakuma/AP/Corbis

Photo credit: Paul Sakuma/AP/Corbis

It’s no secret that Hispanics only make up to 3% of Google’s workforce; techy Hispanics at Google are 2% and Hispanics who hold jobs in maintenance and janitors in Silicon Valley make up 74% and 69% respectively.

In order to change these numbers, Google.Inc has taken some measures. Last year Google invested $115 million on diversity initiatives but this year they are raising that budget to $150 million, as Nancy Lee, Google’s Chief of Inclusion and Diversity, told USA TODAY in an interview on May 6.

Last year, Google released statistics about its workforce on its official blog. Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People’s Operation commented on the post, “we have work to do at Google, as I described in this blog post today.”

google's workforce

These numbers from Google’s workforce demographics represent more than the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. They represent the low number of Latinos, African Americans and women who get degrees in science and engineering.

According to 2013 data from Computing Research Association, 4.5% of all new recipients of bachelor’s degrees in computer science or computer engineering from prestigious research universities were African American, and 6.5% were Hispanic.

On the other side of the story, Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA) has released a study named “Tech’s Diversity Problem: More Than Meets the Eye.” which shows interesting data about the disparities in working conditions between blue and white collar workers in Silicon Valley.

WPUSA highlights that a great percentage of the people who work at Silicon Valley are not only an invisible workforce, but also underpaid. Most of these workers are contractors and do not enjoy the benefits that that 3% does. Also, the standard of living in Santa Clara County is too high for the low wages they receive, which makes it hard for them to make their ends meet.

WPUSA data chart

WPUSA data chart

So, given these statistics, how do we raise that 3% and lower that 74% and 69%? Or how do we make sure that that 74% and 69% are fairly compensated for their work? Google has taken a great step in raising that 3%, but there could be other factors that might interfere with that initiative.

It is important to take into consideration that Hispanics that hold science and engineering degrees might not be interested in working at large corporations. How many Latinos apply to those jobs? And how many of them get hired? Do Hispanics prefer to work with their local community or do they prefer large tech companies?

All these and even more questions come to my mind when I think about that 3% and that 6.5% that graduates each year. But, what about that “invisible workforce”? Some of those workers (maybe) didn’t have the chance to attend college, but they still deserve a fair pay.

Facebook just recently announced that they will require U.S contractors and vendors to pay their employees at least $15 an hour and offer paid time off for sick days and vacation.

Silicon Valley is investing on diversity, and that’s great, but the inclusion of the “invisible workforce” into their initiatives (better benefits and better pay) also means making your company a more attractive place to work for that 3% of Hispanics. Facebook will start doing it soon and hopefully more companies will do it.

 

This post is also available in: Spanish

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