Scott, Butterfield, Lee Unveil New Report on Diversity in the Tech

WASHINGTON – TODAY, Bobby Scott (VA-03), ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce was joined by Reps. G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Barbara Lee (CA-09) to release a Government Accountability Office report entitled, “Diversity in the Technology Sector: Federal Agencies Could Improve Oversight of Equal Employment Opportunity Requirements.” The report found that the environment and access to these opportunities have not improved in more than a decade, for women, Black and Hispanic workers, and that there remains a persistent lack of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in the technology workforce.

“I was compelled to request this report from the GAO in 2015 after reviewing the startling lack of racial and gender diversity and the many documented reports of the hostile racial and gender environment in the tech sector,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “The fact is there is bias in the recruitment, hiring and retention of Black, Hispanic and women workers in the tech sector. Decades of research show diversity is good for innovation and for the economic bottom line. Diversity and inclusion must not be treated as an aspiration; it is the law.”      

This report confirms that the glass ceiling for women and people of color has yet to be cracked within the leading technology companies. This is also true for Asian, Hispanic, and Black workers, who hold low levels of representation at senior positions relative to roles serving as the pipeline for those positions. Moreover, in the past decade, within the leading technology companies, Black workers have actually lost ground across the spectrum of jobs from senior management to mid-level management to professionals to technicians.

“This GAO report is disappointing but not surprising,” said Congressman Butterfield (NC-01), Co-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Diversity Task Force.  “The findings reinforce what we have known for some time- that when it comes to diversity and inclusion of African Americans, the tech industry has gone from making some progress toward losing ground.  The Congressional Black Caucus is determined to move the needle toward full parity in the tech sector, and expect less talk from the industry and better results.”

Technology firms have explained away their poor workforce diversity performance by claiming it is simply a pipeline problem; however, the evidence does not support this claim. Hispanic workers earned ten percent, and Black workers seven percent, of Bachelors and Masters in technology degrees, yet they represent a total of five percent or less of the professionals and mid-level managers in the leading technology companies.

“By 2020 1.4 million new jobs will be available in the tech industry. If current trends persist, communities of color will continue to be locked out of these opportunities. That simply must change. I am pleased that Ranking Member Bobby Scott pressed for this vital report to hold the federal government accountable for its role in bringing diversity and inclusion to the tech sector,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee ( CA-09), Co-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Diversity Task Force. “Last month I visited the nation’s foremost tech companies in Silicon Valley and witnessed the stunning reversal they have made concerning diversity and inclusion. As we continue to press for racial parity within the tech industry, this new report will be an important tool to drive tech companies to be more transparent with their employee data, fully disaggregate their diversity data and establish robust goals to advance equity in tech.”

To help reverse this disturbing trend, the Members of Congress support the GAO’s recommendation for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to require federal contractors to disaggregate the racial and ethnic data. This would help companies to detect and address the underrepresentation of particular minority groups. OFCCP must also assess the diversity among tech sector subcontractors, given the widespread use of subcontracts in that sector.

FACT SHEET: GAO Diversity in Tech Diversity Report

REPORT: Diversity in the Technology Sector: Federal Agencies Could Improve Oversight of Equal Employment Opportunity Requirements