The tech industry should seek to add more minorities to their ranks for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s good for business, according to a new study.
For a long while, critics have accused the tech sector of lacking racial diversity and now comes the #ProjectDiane Report called “The Real Unicorns of Tech: Black Women Founders,” from Digitalundivided (DID), an organization that seeks to help black and Latina women start their own tech companies. DID says its data was gathered over a four-year period.
DID said 3 percent of Facebook’s incoming employees during 2013 (36 out of 1,213) were black — currently the social network has a total of 81 black US employees out of 4,263, DID researchers found. Of Twitter’s 4,000 employees, 49 are black, and at Google, blacks make up 2 percent of the company’s total workforce, DID said. They added that the numbers for Latinos are similar.
Now compare those statistics against the growing numbers of black female business owners. DID says black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., with more than 1.5 million businesses, a 322-percent increase since 1997.
DID’s research showed that black women entrepreneurs are well-educated. Of the black women who started their own companies and studied by DID, 92-percent possess at least an undergraduate degree. More than 60 percent graduated from a top-20 school. Yet, even with a good education and growing numbers, the companies founded by black women don’t seem to get funded.
Black women-led startups raise $36,000 on average, while “the average (mostly white male-led) startup raises $1.3 million,” DID said.
What this means is startups founded by black women represents a huge opportunity for venture capitalists, according to DID.
“The industry sees diversity and inclusion primarily as a human resource issue, but not a market opportunity,” according to DID’s report, written by Kathryn Finney and Marlo Rencher. “As a result, the industry tends to fund inclusion initiatives, and leaders, that focus more on assimilation into current systems rather than those with bold ideas for diverse market penetration and adoption.”
Some tech companies, including Microsoft, seem to understand this.
Some companies don’t. Twitter drew a lot of criticism last year for attempting to bring in a person who could help with diversifying the company’s workforce. Turned out the executive was white.