- September 1, 2017
- 3 minute read
The Silicon Valley Diversity Issue
Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, understands the industry is lacking in female leaders. Zuckerberg is the is the former Director of Market Development and spokesperson for Facebook. Zuckerberg wrote a children’s book to encourage more girls to become involved in tech. The book released in 2013, Dot. The book follows the adventures of Dot and her friends blend technology and their imaginations to help enhance real-life play time. An adaptation of the book became a TV show that premiered last year. Zuckerberg expressed her hope the future will bring more diversity to Silicon Valley.
Other Women in Tech
Besides Zuckerberg the lack of minority of women influencers in Silicon Valley is stark. The list includes former president and CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Ann Mayer, Elizabeth Holmes, chief executive officer of Theranos, Ellen Pao an investment partner at Kapor Capital, and Anne Wojcicki, Chief Executive Officer of 23andMe. There are no recognizable men of color with a presence in Silicon Valley. Less than five percent of employees in executive roles at tech companies are of black and Latino descent. One of those executives is Google CEO Sundar Pichai, as he is of Indian descent.
Damore and Google
When James Damore released his internal memo, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” the company spoke out quickly against his views. Damore was in his right to express his opinion. The issue is the memo represented stereotypes as truths. He attempted to justify why more men were in executive positions within the company. Damore wrote, “women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average.” Damore’s memo fostered a belief that men have traits that make them appeal to leadership positions. He also wanted to challenge the company’s efforts for inclusion if that would hurt the business.
Google fired Damore for allegedly violating the company’s code of conduct. Google CEO Pichai in his public response stated that parts of the memo “[advanced] harmful gender stereotypes.” Pichai also wrote, “the memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender.” Pichai also expressed that freedom of speech is within the right of all employees who follow the company’s code of conduct.
The small numbers of minorities and women in executive positions is not a solvable issue in the immediate future. Time is needed to correct this, but Google has proactively shown commitment in creating an incubator to address building opportunities. The question for Silicon Valley is will others follow suit. In retrospect, more minority-run tech companies will help, and those businesses need the financial support of venture capitalists.
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