Google focus

Some 70% of Google's employees are men and 61% of its US employees are white, according to a workforce diversity report released by the company. When it came to tech jobs the story was worse with female representation falling to 17%.

Black workers accounted for 2% of the US workforce, while Hispanics accounted for another 3%, according to the report released yesterday. Asians accounted for 30% of the company's employees. The gender data is global while the ethnicity information is for the US only, Google said.

"We're the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be - and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution," said Laszlo Bock, Google's senior vice president for People Operations.

Google and other tech companies have been under pressure to release employee diversity data from US civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson who raised the issue at a Google annual meeting earlier this month. Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond stated at the meeting that Google would release its data.

"Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it's hard to address these kinds of challenges if you're not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts." Bock wrote.

Jackson said in March he was to lead a delegation to HP's annual meeting of shareholders to highlight underrepresentation of African-Americans in Silicon Valley companies. He subsequently visited other companies, including Google and Facebook.

"Technology is supposed to be about inclusion, but sadly, patterns of exclusion remains the order of the day," Jackson wrote in letters to top Silicon Valley technology companies, including Apple, Twitter, Facebook, HP and Google, according to rights group Rainbow Push Coalition

Tech companies like Google find it difficult to recruit and retain women and minorities, Bock wrote. Women earn roughly 18% of all computer science degrees in the US, and blacks and Hispanics account for under 10% of US college graduates and bag fewer than 5% of degrees in computer science majors, he wrote.

In Google's leadership, the dominance of whites and males is also high, with men accounting for 79% and whites holding 72% of the jobs. Hispanics had 1% of the positions while blacks had 2% of these jobs.

Men also accounted for 83% of the tech employees at Google. Whites accounted for 60% of the tech jobs, while blacks held 1% of these jobs and Hispanics accounted for 2% of the tech workforce.

Women held 28% of science and engineering jobs while Hispanics, blacks and American Indians or Alaska Natives accounted for just 10% of such jobs, according to 2010 data released by the US National Science Foundation earlier this year.

Jackson and Rainbow Push Coalition have praised Google's decision to release the data. "We believe it is time for other tech companies to follow Google's lead. We challenge them to also voluntarily release their Equal Employment Opportunity Data/Reports," Jackson said.

The reports are typically filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and companies are not required to make the information public. When asked to provide similar data about its employees at its annual meeting, Facebook said it would not do so immediately, according to reports.