Editor’s note: Vivek Wadhwa, a former Triangle entrepreneur turned academic and author, is a very outspoken critic of technology firms when it comes to diversity. A frequent contributor to WRAL TechWire, Wadhwa shared his immediate thoughts to Google’s diversity disclosure Wednesday in an email to friends and colleagues.
SAN FRANCISCO – Google has just done something that is shaking up Silicon Valley: it has disclosed its employment-diversity numbers.
So far, other leading tech companies have refused to release these data, claiming that the secret was a matter of competitive advantage.
Of course it was really about competitive embarrassment and shame.
Google’s numbers aren’t impressive, but it is acknowledging the problem and doing something about it.
It is accepting responsibility.
I applauded and criticized Google on PBS NewsHour, which broke the story. (The discussion between me; Google SVP, Laszlo Bock; and Telle Whitney is available online.)
[“The numbers are low. And I think Google can and should be doing a lot more,” Wadhwa said, according to a PBS transcript.
[“But, as Telle says, we applaud them for doing it, because there is a systemic problem in Silicon Valley. The fact that one of the leading companies in Silicon Valley is now disclosing data, it will put pressure on other companies to do the same. And then there will be pressure on them to fix this problem, which is amazing.
[“So, we made major, major progress by getting this far. So I applaud Google for what they just did over here.”]
Despite my criticism of Google, I am really impressed with how well it is handling this situation and how supportive its people have been of my forthcoming book on women in innovation.
Google’s breaking ranks will cause the rest of the industry to follow and clean up its act.
This really is a big victory!
Note: Wadhwa wrote two more in-depth reviews of Google and diversity:
“Google, Silicon Valley must do more to hire female engineers” at The Washington Post
“Fixing Google’s gender gap shouldn’t be so hard at PBS”
(C) Vivek Wadhwa