|The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during its May 18, 2016 hearing on diversity in the tech industry.|
(Photo: Mike Snider, USA TODAY), Link below
Topics: African Americans, Diversity in Science, Economy, Jobs, STEM
Though this post is based on 2016 articles, this is not anecdotal at all for me. I've discussed being "the only one in the room." High tech gives a lot of the same statements almost every year.
From the NPR article:
The thing about the tech industry and employee diversity reports is they can feel like Groundhog Day:
- Google, 2014: "Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity."
- Google, 2016: "We saw encouraging signs of progress in 2015, but we're still far from where we need to be."
- Facebook, 2014: "We have more work to do — a lot more. But the good news is that we've begun to make progress."
- Facebook, 2015: "While we have achieved positive movement over the last year, it's clear to all of us that we still aren't where we want to be. There's more work to do."
- Facebook, 2016: "We still have a long way to go, but as we continue to strive for greater change, we are encouraged by positive hiring trends."
Pretty much, the work is done FOR companies BY their African American tech workforce, small and mighty though they may be.
Small numerically; mighty with regards to finding their sphere of influence and exercising it through specifically-oriented groups: NSBE, NSBP, SHPE, etc.
The "pipeline" argument — that there are simply not enough properly skilled minorities for hire — has troubled diversity experts in Silicon Valley for years.
"It's always been a cop-out," says Kalimah Priforce, who runs Oakland-based Qeyno Labs, which organizes hackathons targeted at minority youth. "The pipeline has a bias. ... Their version of the pipeline is what's creating the outcome that we see."
One problem is this is an unpaid volunteer force, some officially recognized or unofficially recognized by their companies.
There was a brief window in Austin, Texas where tech was actively recruiting from my Alma Mater. I'd like to think I had something to do with that. It was quite easy for Motorola to check the box and go to Prairie View A&M or Texas Southern. It was "a matter of cost." I simply asked was it a matter of cost to go to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford or Yale? HR had no answer, but were pleasantly surprised when they actually visited the campus in Greensboro.
The problem with the pipeline is it's usually a brief answer and a quarter-to-quarter mentality, not a long-term growth strategy.
The high tech sector has become a major source of economic growth fueling the U.S. economy. As an innovation leader, the high tech sector has impacted how we communicate and access information, distribute products and services, and address critical societal problems. Because this sector is the source of an increasing number of jobs, it is particularly important that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and its stakeholders understand the emerging trends in this industry. Ensuring a sufficient supply of workers with the appropriate skills and credentials and addressing the lack of diversity among high tech workers have become central public policy concerns. This report seeks to shed more light on employment patterns in the high tech industry by providing an overview of literature as a backdrop to understanding high tech employment, and analyzing corresponding summary data from the Employer Information EEO-1 Report (EEO-1) collected in 2014.
Employment in computer science and engineering is growing at twice the rate of the national average. These jobs tend to provide higher pay and better benefits, and they have been more resilient to economic downturns than other private sector industries over the past decade. In addition, jobs in the high tech industry have a strong potential for growth. These jobs are important to companies in all industries that require workers with technology skills. Employment trends in the high tech sector are therefore important to the national economic and employment outlook. 
With a pending gap of 1.4 million computing jobs expected in 2020 -- and only an estimated 400,000 skilled U.S. workers available to fill them -- women and minorities "could be a big part of the solution," she said.
Older workers are also being discriminated against in tech hiring practices that prefer "digital natives" and leave older workers "persona non grata," said Laurie McCann, a senior attorney with the AARP. 
The other problem is at the corporate leadership level, if they actually value and take advantage of the HELP.
1. EEOC: Diversity in High Tech
2. USA Today: EEOC: More diversity needed in tech hiring, Mike Snider