Representatives GK Butterfield (D-NC) and Barbara Lee (D-Cal) traveled to Silicon Valley last month and were dismayed at the responses they received from tech companies claiming to promote workplace diversity. Apparently the two were so frustrated, they are considering taking legislative action against the tech sector. While such action would almost certainly fail in a Republican led Congress, the issue of the lack of African Americans in Silicon Valley remains.
One of the main issues seems to be the failure to improve on African American employment numbers. “We were here two years ago. A few companies have moved the needle [in hiring more African-Americans] a bit. Most are either in the same place and some have gone backwards,” Lee said told The Hill over the phone.
“When we get back with the Congressional Black Caucus, we’ve got to discuss what strategies we’re going to take,” Butterfield said in a phone interview with The Hill. During their California trip, Lee and Butterfield met with Salesforce, Uber, Hustle, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, Intel, Twitter, Lyft and Facebook.
Another issue Lee and Butterfield feel are restricting the growth of African American employment is the use of the term “minority”. Some technology companies include women, veteran, and LGBTQ individuals in their minority term and, as such, increase the pool of qualified applicants for jobs and promotions.
Whether you agree with this or not, “the two would like to see a disaggregated approach to diversity that increases representation among African-Americans as well as other groups. Butterfield says that because of this, he and Lee are not letting executives they speak to use the phrase “minority inclusion” because of its broad definition.”
Regardless of what can be done, a solid strategy on diversity is always welcome on this news site. Although more information would be necessary on the growth of “minorities” in each company, I do hope that the promotion is more than just lip service. With a growing population leaning more diverse it is a necessity to tap into the future of our country’s demographics.