July 16, 2014
by Julian Hattem, The Hill

The head of a major technology industry group is promising to tackle the lack of women and minority employees at major tech firms. 

In an op-ed in USA Today on Wednesday, Information Technology Industry Council chief executive Dean Garfield said Silicon Valley needs the help of everyone from “parents to policymakers” to root out the sector’s “diversity problem.”

At the top of the agenda, he wrote, is making sure more students of all types get interested in math, engineering, science and technology. Too many women, Latino and African-American students don’t pursue those subjects, Garfield said, while noting that just 0.4 percent of female college freshman were majoring in computer science.

“Until those numbers move, an entire generation risks missing out on good-paying jobs, and the tech industry will miss out on the unique experiences and perspectives of a diverse workforce,” Garfield wrote.

“We must spark this change together because the stakes are high: More than the future of our businesses depends on it.”

Lack of diversity has been a persistent problem for major tech companies. In an effort at transparency, companies have begun to voluntarily release details about diversity at their workplaces, which are largely male, white and Asian.

At Facebook, for instance, 68 percent of employees around the globe were male, and 91 percent were white or Asian. Just 4 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were African-American. 

Some lawmakers have begun to turn their attention to the issue.

Earlier this month, three Democrats from the San Francisco Bay Area feared a “persistent and troubling deficit when it comes to women, African-Americans and Latinos.” 

“Diversifying the tech workforce will not only boost the bottom line, but also provide African-American, Latino and female students with success stories in a field largely devoid of role models,” Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) wrote.

This article originally appeared in The Hill and can be found here.