Yahoo follows Google’s move and opens up about diversity


REUTERS/Pascal Lauener/Files

When Google released its workforce diversity numbers a couple weeks ago, following pressure from outside activists, many predicted it would lead other tech companies to mimic the move.

They were right. Last Thursday, LinkedIn announced the demographic makeup of its workforce. And late Tuesday, Yahoo shared its numbers in a company blog post.

In the post, Yahoo revealed that its total workforce is 37 percent female (Google's is 30 percent), 50 percent white and 39 percent Asian (Google's is 61 percent white and 31 percent Asian). It also stated that hispanic and black employees make up four percent and two percent of its employees, respectively — numbers that are nearly identical to Google's.

Via Yahoo
(Via Yahoo)

Like Google, Yahoo also broke down the figures for its tech versus non-tech workers. At Yahoo, 15 percent of tech employees are women. That's a slim difference from Google's 17 percent, but Google also has nearly four times as many employees. And the similarity in diversity makeup extends to the two companies' leadership ranks. Twenty-three percent of Yahoo's leaders are women and 17 percent are Asian, compared with Google's 21 percent of leaders who are women and 23 percent who are Asian.

The numbers Yahoo posted paint a roughly similar picture to those of Google and LinkedIn, with a somewhat higher percentage of women overall and in leadership ranks and a slightly lower percentage in tech jobs. Still, there's great value in making them public.

The tech industry has a lot of work ahead of it to train, recruit and retain a higher number of women and minorities. The low number of tech workers at these companies who are women is unsettling, yes, but unfortunately not terribly surprising —  given what we know about the rate of women graduating with engineering degrees or leaving the field once they enter it.

So while Yahoo's numbers may not tell us much more than we already know, they are an important step toward the industry holding itself for accountable. They also show how powerful it is when one company, in this case Google, leads the way in opening up about a difficult topic. Corporations are a competitive bunch, and when one knocks down a barrier to transparency, others often follow.

Read also:

Google admits it has a diversity problem

Study: Nearly a third of science and tech leaders think a woman can't reach the top

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Jena McGregor writes a daily column analyzing leadership in the news for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.
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