Glaring Lack of representation
Since COVID-19, there has been a boom in career fields such as the tech industry. The Tech industry has seen an influx of attention and candidates from the Black community, but representation is still at an all-time low in this field.
The tech industry was an afterthought to most Black people because it’s a career field that’s not promoted among the community (disregarding the recent emphasis on STEM programs). A report by TechRepublic detailed that from 2014 to 2018, there was a reported 7.4% of African-Americans in tech and 14.4% in the private sector compared to White people who filled 68.5% in tech and 63.5% in the private sector. These numbers stay pretty consistent across other data reports as Techmonitor.ai reported that from 2014-2018 big tech companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook never went above 6% of total employment of Black tech workers during the 4 years. Higher management positions also were on the downside during that span, with Black management never reaching above 10% across the four companies.
Presently, there has been a marginal increase in the tech industry, with representation only rising to 8% of technology workers being Black out of 9.2 million and only 3% of executive positions filled by a Black person.
“We learned that Black technology professionals consistently experience systemic barriers to growth, which was disappointing but not surprising,” said Guy Primus, chief executive officer at the employment agency Valence. “When I think about my experiences and those of my peers, I am reminded of how far we still have to go.”
Primus is referring to not only the lack of diversity in the tech space but also the revolving door of Black tech workers who feel they have to switch companies consistently to see small growth in their careers. To advance their careers and earn more pay, Black talent in the tech industry move employers every 3.5 years on average, while their non-Black peers report switching jobs every 5.1 years on average. Because of this, according to a report from Russell Reynolds Associates and Valence, 47% of Black technology professionals “strongly agree” that they must switch between companies more regularly for career growth. In contrast, only 28% of non-Black respondents said the same.
Primus also points to the lack of role models or public tech figures for the lack of value managers have for Black tech workers. “A lack of role models and even peers means that Black employees are less likely to have a valued and trusted workplace community,” he said. “We’re just as capable as everyone else on the team, but we’re more likely to be misunderstood, reluctant to ask for help, or feel disconnected from the work.” In a 2022 report called “State of Tech Diversity: The Black Tech Ecosystem,” the Kapor Center found that nearly half of all Black technologists reported experiencing racial inequity in hiring, promotion, leadership opportunities, and salaries and benefits.