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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  • Camryn

    Tell CNN that…

  • Tiffany

    I am a Black female attorney. I moved out here from the East Coast a little under a year ago. It’s totally like I moved back in time — way back. I honestly will not settle down out here. There’s no point if you actually care about your career and community.

    • Girl yes, I live in SF and work for a dot.com and I have never felt more like an outcast minority and so lonely in my life.

    • Purple Rain

      Most of the Black population is in East Bay, if you are looking to meet and mingle with other Blacks. There’s the East Bay Black Professionals Meetup, the NAACP has an Oakland chapter, there is also a Black Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Sacramento Urban League Young Professionals are looking to expand to the Bay Area as well.

    • Nic

      Me too, it is the worst. A lot of people claim that the issue is that black people don’t go to the right schools and dont’ have the right degrees but that is BS.

      I’m the most educated person in my group, multiple degrees, Ivy League school, technical background, and my manager undermines me and acts like I just feel off the stupid truck and don’t understand how a big company works or how to be a “professional.” I should point out I came from a Fortune 500 company where I was quite successful (pre my last grad degree).

      There are white people out here who got jobs when they were handing them out like candy and don’t have 4 year degrees, so they need to stop acting like you need 20 Ivy League degrees on your wall to qualify.

      I get work that could be done by a highschooler and if I ask for more, I get forced to at like other people’s secretary. My skills are regularly put down even though I work with people who regularly make large scale flubs. It is the worst job of my life and I cannot wait to get the hell out.

      The atmosphere is too hostile and people are given too much leeway to make up whatever they want to about you in the workplace.

      They don’t want us here and I personally don’t have the time or energy to be a martry b/c all that will happen is that I’ll get nowhere and continue to be skipped when it’s time for raises and promotions.

      They pay me less than people who never worked beyond having internships before they came to the company (and yes, for the same job).

    • Tiffany

      Can you email me? [email protected]. Your comment is the story of my experience here. It’s sad. I had so much hope moving out here…

    • Nic

      Yeah, a black woman who wants to even date needs to stay the hell out of the Bay Area…that is a topic for an entirely NEW article.

      I think the only black women I’ve met who are happy here are the ones who are from here who think that this is “normal”…I’ve met some who have moved back from the East Coast and I’m like “why did you do that” but if their parents are here I guess it makes sense.

      But some spend time in places where we get a much better shake in every other part of daily life and realize they can have a much better life there.

      And yes, will email you. Ugh, worst time of my life here. So very bad.

  • ArabellaMichaela

    Judging by what I have seen in the past few years, younger people
    (Millennials and Gen Xers) do not know that it is illegal to discriminate in hiring. And a lot of hiring managers are noticeably young.
    The federal EEOC, which has been “asleep” definitely needs to reeducate Americans about Title VII and employment discrimination.

  • Nila

    Don’t we need to have more college graduates first and then we can tackle the hiring practices of Silicone Valley? I am just saying.

    • Tiffany

      Sadly, this suggestion ignores the bigger problem. Silicon Valley is not diverse. Most of the Black population is in Oakland and there are huge social class differences between the majority population and Blacks. There are a good number of grads to make a change. Honestly, I moved out here hopeful and learned I am not really welcome. Back to the East Coast. No need to waste time, right?

    • Unfortunately, there really aren’t tons. I was just reading an article recently about black Berkeley students who are disappointed with the decreasing number of black students at the school.

    • omfg

      there are not tons of black graduates coming out of berkeley or any uc school nowadays.

      what world are you living in?

      now, there ARE TONS of asians graduating from these schools.

    • Nic

      Maybe you aren’t a college grad and maybe you aren’t a techie but as someone who is both and then some, even when you show up with all of the same or better credentials than the white or Asians, they still deny you entry.
      So if you want to claim that every black student needs to be up to par before my own hard earned degrees from elite schools are viewed the same as they view their own you can take several seats.

  • Tiffany

    Start-ups hire friends. This is the underlying problem. The majority of the people out here are from the Bay Area. They are not used to hanging with those who aren’t White or Asian. I really think that’s the bottom line. It’s sad. It’s why I think living here is like living in the past. I live in SF and work in Palo Alto. I can go the entire week without seeking another black person. It’s the exact opposite back east.

    All I can say is if you are Black and want a startup job you have to knock their socks off. From talking to people there is a stigma that Blacks are not up to par. It’s sickening and sad… Frankly just another excuse that needs to be removed from the paradigm.

    • Rue

      “From talking to people there is a stigma that Blacks are not up to par. ”
      Nope that’s everywhere. And I am not surprised that the tech-y guys perpetrate it…They are great beneficiaries of the Ivy-League/White-Male culture so they could give a s–t

    • Nic

      Exactly…yes, my personal experience is that the whites and Asians are NOT used to having to tolerate Black people who are their intellectual equals or those are actually exceed them in intellgence or education.
      Some of them just pretend like you are still stupid and some of them just ignore your credentials all together once you are in the workplace and you find yourself sidelined and given garbage work.
      I have definitely showed up places where I’m sure based on my resume and phone conversations they were not expecting “black girl”. There are a lot of things in my background that minds here cannot accept are possessed by a black person.

    • Tiffany

      I think it goes with out saying — I will go where I can generate business…

    • Nic

      Was it a VC or one of the law firms? Right, black people aren’t even the help in these places. It is unreal.
      And in the store, I sometimes get little kids pointing at me b/c I’m the only black face there. It is so tiresome.

      They do think they are so progressive but out here, progressive really means ‘I sleep with Asian girls.’

    • Tiffany

      Law firm. It’s amazing to me how people will not help each other out. Together we go further, right? At least, that is what my parents preached for years.

      There is the argument that the longer you stay, the more friends you build and you can break in that way. That’s a long and risky road only to enter a risky start-up. I think when people realize this, they leave. You can’t put your life on hold with hurdles…

      I’m glad dating was brought up above… All I can say is – being single is pretty nice…