- The proportion of Black professionals in technical roles at large tech companies increased just 1% between 2014 and 2021, according to a report from The Kapor Center and the NAACP, published Tuesday. The study analyzed publicly available company diversity reports, among other data sources.
- Black professionals occupy 3.7% in technical roles at large tech companies, despite making up 13% of the overall labor force, the report found.
- Similar inequities play out in the highest ranks of big U.S.-based tech companies, where Black workers represent just 4% of executive leaders. Black executives occupy only 4.4% of seats on boards.
In recent years, top-flight tech companies devoted resources and laid out plans to address diversity and cultural challenges within their organizations. Despite efforts, the data show improvement has been minimal in terms of the racial composition of the IT workforce.
"We haven't seen the increase because there hasn't been a real commitment to addressing the issues that have kept people out," said Rachel Goins, a co-author of the report and director of Program Implementation at the Kapor Center, a nonprofit focused on diversity in tech and entrepreneurship.
Companies have failed to put in place cultural change that enables retention of Black tech workers "once they do get through the door," Goins said, such as biases in the assignment of key projects.
Black IT workers have a shorter average tenure than their non-Black counterparts, according to a survey of 400 tech workers from executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. Black tech workers changed jobs every 3.5 years, compared to 5.1 years among non-Black tech workers.
This contrast was even more pronounced among workers with 10 years of experience or less.
To address IT staff diversity, and to aid with tech talent pipeline challenges, companies often turn to targeted training initiatives, such as apprenticeship and internship programs.
Yet leaders in IT haven't been able to connect the thread between programming and hiring, according to Goins.
"There are these programs but there isn't actually a commitment to say that you will hire some percentage of these graduates," said Goins. "And it should be a high percentage."
The way forward for companies seeking to improve their retention and attraction of Black IT talent lies in tracking the data points of entry and retention, Goins said.
"How are resumes being reviewed? How are people's hiring experiences going? You should be following up with folks who did not get hired, or chose not to join companies, to figure out why," said Goins. "That is data that should be tracked."