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Tech's peculiar relationship with social justice

Preston Gralla | April 8, 2015
Tech companies led the way in criticizing the anti-gay aspects of Indiana’s religious freedom law, but many of those same companies have a long way to go before achieving gender equity.

It's not just Apple that underemploys women: The tech workforce is generally about 30% women. That's true at Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Salesforce. Women employed in tech companies are paid less than men are. SmartAsset surveyed tech firms in 54 cities and found that women in tech companies are paid 86% of what men are paid.

Tech companies issue plenty of mea culpas about this. When Google published its diversity numbers and revealed that only 30% of its workforce were women, Laszlo Bock, senior vice president, People Operations, wrote, "We're the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be -- and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution." But the post didn't reveal how Google planned to change things.

When Apple released its diversity report, Tim Cook said, "I'm not satisfied" with how few women the company employs. But no specific plan for doing anything about it was revealed.

Marc Benioff has at least made a practical attempt to do something. This March he said that he wants at least 30% to 50% of executives attending important meetings to be women.

Statements of intentions are certainly welcome. But they don't replace action. Until the industry solves its gender problem, it has a long way to go before it can be said to be a champion of social justice.

 

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