No Diversity in Silicon Valley. Stop Crying. What are you doing about it?

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I’m writing this post for the executives, board members, diversity and inclusion managers and recruiters at Silicon Valley companies (and Corporate America), but this is also a post for the Latino professionals who are members of LAM, a Latino professional community, and beyond.

FACTS

Fact: there is a lack of Hispanic representation in Silicon Valley (and in Corporate America) — (Reports by Yahoo, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter show that five of the tech sector’s largest companies are largely white and male with Hispanic representation between 3-4% Hispanics — reference)

Fact: out of the 9,000+ LAM members, approximately 90% have a Bachelors degree and 40% have a Masters degree→ Listen up, I’m also talking to you, the educated Latino.

Fact: the % of Latinos in the USA is approximately 17%.

Fact: the % of Latinos with a Bachelor’s degree is approximately 13%.

BUT ….

The % of Latinos with a bachelor’s degree when compared to the general population in the USA is approximately 2-3% — reference.

From the looks of it, the tech companies are doing ok, they have 3-4% Hispanics yet the population of Hispanics with Bachelors is 2-3%.

NOT SO FAST! There is a lot more under the hood than this simple number comparison.

Latino spending power is over $1 trillion/year.

Latinos over-index social media, online shopping, and mobile usage.

Companies are starting to wake up and see the impact the Hispanic/Latino consumer is having on their bottom line … and right now it is the perfect opportunity for Latino professionals to step up and lead these companies in the direction needed to capitalize on this opportunity, and also make an impact on our community.

However, current efforts are not enough. Corporations need to start realizing that the efforts they are doing, they need to increase whatever they are doing by 100x.

As Eutiquio Chapa, program manager of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, points out, there is enough Latino talent to recruit. Just looking at the Computer Science (CS) numbers:

Fact: Total Latino CS BS+Masters Degrees in 2009: 3,300

Fact: Latino Total BA CS degrees in 2009: 2,792

Fact: Top 25 schools (ranked by who gives most CS degrees to Latinos) gave out 1,072 Latino CS degrees in 2009.

Fact: 65,000 Latino CS Professionals (reference: Census)

Fact: 1,000 Latinos in Top 10 Silicon Valley Firms (reference)

Even though our numbers are low overall, corporations should not use this as an excuse. The last two facts above are alarming. Out of the 65,000 Latino CS professionals, only 1.5% work at a top 10 Silicon Valley firm. In addition, there is research that shows that “managers who don’t believe that they are biased tend to hire people very much like themselves” (reference). Research also shows that some companies don’t even have a budget for diversity recruiting. In order to make a difference, companies must invest in helping the Latino and other underrepresented communities increase these numbers at the various stages of the pipeline … and it starts with pre-school.


How to develop a diverse pipeline.

The stages:

  1. Pre-school: Develop programs to help start learning at a very young age and increase pre-school enrollment for all underrepresented communities
  2. K-12: Increase STEM programs and funding for underrepresented students from low-income and broken families and also from ANY underrepresented families … some middle class students need lots of help and motivation as well … I know, I was one of them.
  3. College: Promote STEM careers, create relationships with Latino student organizations, find budget for diversity recruiting at all levels: intern/part-time/full-time
  4. Post-graduate: Same as #3 but also create fellowships for diverse backgrounds, create research opportunities
  5. Mid-career: Build relationships with professional organizations, create diversity recruitment career days, volunteer/mentor at least two students and one entry level.

WHAT ELSE?

The above is not only for corporations; the stages are also for the Latino professionals, the ones that “have made it”. At all stages you should volunteer, mentor, promote, donate, teach, fundraise, and if you’re lucky enough to manage recruitment budgets at a corporation, invest.

Not only this, but also APPLY!

We, as Latino professionals, must make an effort to take on the challenge and apply for jobs at these tech companies. We need to be the best we can be to try and achieve professional success, and if your passion is in tech, then work for a top 5 tech company, or if your passion is in finance, apply for the top banks, but always strive for the best … because you know what? You belong in that club.

Ok, enough of this pep talk…

BUT THERE IS HOPE

Now, I’m not saying nothing is being done. Luckily efforts have been made by both parties to start making a difference.

Let’s start with the fact that many of the top Silicon Valley companies are now open about their lack of diversity. (1st step: acknowledge there is a problem). Google has sponsored a workshop for SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) in their San Francisco office to hopefully meet potential candidates. Intel is hosting a long-day workshop in partnership with diversity professional organizations including NSHMBA (National Society of Hispanic MBAs), National Black MBA Association, SHPE, SWE (Society of Women Engineers), among others. Kapor Center For Social Impact, which seeks to diversify participation in the technology economy, is focusing on “underrepresented communities, and has created programs such as its SMASH Academy, which brings mostly poor black and Latino high school students to summer programs at top universities.” Latino Startup Alliance, promoting tech entrepreneurship, is growing with over 1,000 members at a national level.

Latino professionals are also making a difference; they’re starting to show up! The Intel event is sold out with over 300 registered guests! Projects and non-profit organizations focused on increasing STEM awareness are popping up and are taking action. LISTAS, an organization that encourages and motivates girls to prepare for professional careers in which they have traditionally been underrepresented in, held a successful conference in April with over 200 Latina middle school and high school students. In addition, Latino leaders are promoting change: LAM member Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, has a mission, to promote the Two by 2020 Mentoring Challenge.

But is this enough? Will there ever be diverse representation at corporations with the current efforts?

SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

I don’t know what the solution is … but I can help brainstorm this with you. This is a very complex problem. But whatever we’re doing, is not enough.

I still think more needs to be done, and it starts with you, the corporations, to invest in the pipelines of underrepresented communities at ALL stages, increase your budgets to: hire more people to execute the investments, produce more diversity events, provide more mentors, and hire more diverse individuals.

It also starts with you, the folks that have “already made it” — give back to your community and start with your family.

And it also starts with you, the young Latinos, lost in the sea of opportunities and not know where to turn. Increase your social capital — in other works, network. connect, and ask for advice. But also show up, increase your skill set, continue learning, get those straight A’s, go to the top schools, and repeat.

At the bottom of this article I share with you, the corporations and individuals, some resources and references for you to take action: join, sponsor, invest or volunteer on projects and the organizations.

As for me, as of today I’ll start looking for career opportunities within the top corporations and help increase the numbers by 1. I’ll continue to grow LAM and partner with organizations to continue to make a difference. I’ll continue to promote the need for education and promote the need for your help to make a difference.

So let’s stop crying and start doing.


Views expressed in this post are those of Giovanni Dubois, not of LAM Network. It just happens that I’m on the leadership team of LAM. Please direct comments to @don_giovanni on twitter or leave comments below.

About LAM

LAM is a tech media startup company for brands to reach the Latino professional market. LAM owns LAM Network, an online and event-driven professional social network. Through social media, inspiring events and an online magazine, LAM Network creates opportunities and connections for Latino professionals and influentials.

Connect, engage, discover, inspire at lam-network.com.

APPENDIX

Thanks to Jesse Martinez, founder of Latino Startup Alliance and Eutiquio Chapa for resources and references!

Below are some organizations you can either join as a professional or sponsors/invest/advertise in.

LAM Network

LSA — Latino Startup Aliance

SHPE — Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

NSHMBA — National Society of Hispanic Professionals

ALPFA

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Avion Accelerator

DreamIt Ventures

Latino Tech Leaders

Chicana Latina Foundation

San Francisco La Raza Lawyer Association

UC Berkeley Chicano/Latino Alumni Association

Hispanicize

Latina Success Network

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