Massachusetts tech industry struggling with diversity, promises change

Hugo Balta

The tech industry has a well-documented diversity, equity, and inclusion problem. Employment opportunities have increased in more than 10-years by an estimated 1.9 million jobs. Still, despite the industry’s growth, Hispanics-Latinos are left behind. 

Google released its annual diversity 2019 report showing nearly 50% of its employees are white, with less than 7% identifying as Hispanic. Microsoft shared similar data from its 2018 diversity report showing 55% white employees and 6% Hispanic employees, according to a report by the Cronkite News.

In Massachusetts, approximately 7-percent of people working in technology are Hispanic or Latino, according to a 2019 report by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.

Those numbers are up over previous years, but not where they need to be per the council when you consider the growing number of Hispanics – Latinos; representing 12.4 percent of Massachusetts residents, according to the US census.

This week a coalition of about 60 tech companies laid out a new plan to increase the Hispanic – Latino and Black population of their employees in 10 years, according to a report by the Boston Globe.

Tom Hopcroft, chief executive of the leadership council, said he sees this moment of national reckoning over racial injustice as a chance to get companies to commit to measurable actions that will pave the way toward progress.

“I’m very optimistic that we can really make an impact here at each level, signaling to the world that tech in Massachusetts cares about this,” said Hopcroft in the interview.

One of the companies participating in the initiative, Akamai Technologies Inc. is committing to making changes towards racial equality in its organization. “Akamai realizes being inclusive is not only the right thing to do — it just makes good business sense,” said Anthony Williams, executive vice president, and chief human resources officer, Akamai Technologies. “Fostering real and lasting change requires sustained commitment over years. While we have made strides, we recognize we need to do more to hire Black and “Latinx” employees. We hope that by joining forces with like-minded companies we can propel our efforts exponentially.”

The plan is outlined in a “tech compact for social justice” released by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. Among the strategies are tracking and reporting data on whom they are hiring and promoting, diversifying their boards of directors, and improving recruiting efforts.

Participating companies must commit to only three of the 12 measures laid out.