Diversity Efforts Directed At Women Tend To Help White Women. Black Women ‘Shooketh’

Written by Ann Brown
Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

Just as white women benefited the most from affirmative action — although they were among its most ardent opponents — they’re also befitting from diversity initiatives in tech.

Sure the efforts to create diverse workplaces at the tech giants are going slow and the diversity numbers are still far from impressive. On paper, some tech companies have shown an improvement in opening up to women and people of color. However, the techniques to measure this have come into question. Some experts say the numbers being analyzed are too small and they don’t take into account the lack of retention, especially among Black women in tech. There is just a 15 percent retention of Black women at tech companies, according to Harvard Business Review (HBR).

“Consider, for example, Google’s most recent diversity report: 0.5 percent of its U.S. technical workforce is comprised of Black women and 0.9 percent is Latinx women. Even in a company this large, the numbers get small,” HBR reported.

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Using “small numbers” to declare a move toward diversity can be deceiving. “With such limited data, many companies revert back to broad categories (e.g. “all women”) as they structure diversity initiatives. In fact, articles on people analytics advise practitioners to ‘beware of small numbers’ because it’s hard to determine what they mean,” HBR reported.

Companies are leaning toward “one size first all” diversity efforts that ultimately don’t work and in the end, “tend to advance white women at the expense of women of color.”

This comes to no surprise to Black women. In fact, in regard to the HBR article one Black woman tweeted: “I am shooketh! Not really.”

Another tweeted: “Unpopular opinion: I’m not in the crowd that is saying, “duh” to this writer. Why? …because yes, even though black people are aware, our cries fall on deaf ears. When someone ELSE says it, people may listen. These writers are megaphones to our whispers.”

It’s not just a problem in tech, but in most companies that are involved with diversity efforts.

“The problem is when diversity programs focus on ‘women’ as a whole, they often fall into the trap of prioritizing the majority: White women,” Recode reported.