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Jan Lee headshot

Silicon Valley Gets Its Report Card On Workplace Diversity (And It's Not Pretty)

By Jan Lee

How well do U.S. businesses really do when it comes to workplace diversity? Google’s disagreement with the Department of Labor -- which found “very significant discrimination” against women at the Google headquarters -- suggests there are many interpretations of what constitutes a truly diverse workforce in Silicon Valley.

A new San Francisco-based startup is trying to simplify that question. Blendoor, launched by CEO Stephanie Lampkin, recently released a report rating Silicon Valley tech companies on four key drivers: leadership, retention, recruitment and social impact.

Companies were evaluated not only on whether they support gender and ethnic diversity in their hiring quotas, but also how they reflect those ideals. For example, did their leadership also make an effort to serve as board members for diversity-related nonprofits and organizations?  And what specific, proactive steps did the company take to increase retention in its ranks?

Needless to say, the results were insightful. Leading the pack were HP (87 out of a possible 100), Paypal (82), Intuit (80), Yelp (80), Apple (80) and Cisco (80). But while Intuit and Cisco both earned the same ranking, their sub-scores differed. Intuit ranked higher than Cisco on leadership diversity, while Cisco scored better on diversity recruitment.

The results also suggest there are different understandings of just what diversity means and how innovative companies feel they need to be to be considered a “diverse” company. Lampkin’s questionnaire doesn’t just probe the basics when it comes to ethnic and gender composition, but also seeks to get to the heart of what the companies really see as their role in a diversity-driven Silicon Valley.

Quite a number of the companies appeared to have little to no strategies for increasing diversity when it came to retention, recruitment or social impact. Wayfair and Whatsapp missed out almost completely when it came to recruitment and social impact scores.

It’s unclear whether some of the information was simply not available or the data actually reflected poor performance. But it would seem that many of the companies that make their bread and butter from social media would be engaged in promoting those efforts through social involvement.

Still, other companies, like YouTube, which earned 49 (rating it higher on social impact than in representing its leadership with diverse talent) and its sister company, Google (69), which received high marks for social engagement/impact and lower marks in leadership diversity and retention) reflected the bulk of tech companies, with scores that suggest effort is being made, but, as Lampkin said, “There’s plenty of room for improvement.”

Image credit: Flickr/Global Health Fellows Program II

Jan Lee headshot

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

Read more stories by Jan Lee