For the last two years, CNN has been investigating the hiring practices of several top Silicon Valley technology companies, and attempting to look into their workforce diversity data. But they discovered a few things:

  • Most companies blocked their EEO information from being released
  • The government wasn’t willing to cooperate
  • There’s still a lack of diversity (duh)

During their first attempt in 2011 as part of the “Black In America” series, they reached out to 20 tech companies to ask about the sex and race of their staff:

Only Dell (DELLFortune 500), Ingram Micro (IMFortune 500) and Intel (INTC,Fortune 500) played ball. Intel, in stark contrast to the rest of the tech industry, actually makes its employment diversity information public on its website.

“Intel believes that transparency with our data is the best way to have a genuine dialogue,” Intel chief diversity officer Rosalind Hudnell told CNNMoney last week. “We are tech companies and data drives our business; we need to get beyond our fears that the numbers are a poor reflection on our individual organizations and work together to address the issue collectively. “

CNN figured the best way to get the remaining data would be through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which would be able to grant them access to EEO-1 reports. Any company with over 100 employees must file yearly EEO-1 reports to the government.  The EEO-1 categorizes U.S. workers by their race and sex and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, collects the date to monitor hiring practices.

But here’s where CNN ran into issues:

We sent the EEOC a FOIA request on Aug. 18, 2011, and three weeks later it was denied. The EEOC said it is legally prohibited from releasing EEO-1 reports.

Second attempt: After consulting with experts and CNN’s legal team, we learned the Department of Labor has access to EEOC data for some companies — and unlike the EEOC, no federal statute bars the DOL from releasing the reports.

We re-filed the FOIA request to the Department of Labor on Nov. 1, 2011. It took more than a year for that request to be processed.

On Dec. 7, 2012, we finally received the data, but for only five companies: Cisco(CSCO, Fortune 500), Dell, eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500), Ingram Micro and Intel.

What happened to the other 15 companies’ information is complicated.

The Labor Department has no authority to release EEO-1 reports for companies that aren’t federal contractors. That knocked out 10 companies: Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500), Facebook, Groupon (GRPN), Hulu, LinkedIn (LNKD), LivingSocial, Netflix(NFLX), Twitter, Yelp (YELP) and Zynga (ZNGA).

But even contractors may block the release of their data. Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500),Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500), IBM (IBM,Fortune 500) and Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) all submitted written objections, successfully petitioning the Department of Labor for their data to be excluded on the basis that doing so would cause “competitive harm.”


When you look at the data that was received, it doesn’t show you anything that you wouldn’t already expect.

For example, at Cisco, you can see the breakdown of the total number of black employees based on job classification:


But when you break it down to black women, it’s even more dismal:

cisco women

Although Cisco and 4 companies willingly supplied their data, hopefully this will be a wake up call that urges them and other companies to actually diversify their hiring practices, as well as removing the veil of secrecy surrounding them. Because it doesn’t matter how well we prepare and encourage black teens to choose careers in technology and science, if companies aren’t willing to change their hiring practices.

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