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Google on Diversity: We Have a Problem

Google on Wednesday released stats on the diversity of its workforce, admitted it has a problem, and tried to explain why.

"We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google," Laszlo Bock, senior VP, People Operations, blogged. "We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. 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."

Those facts are that only 2% of the workforce is black, only 3% Hispanic and men outnumber women by more than two to one (70% to 30%).

Bock said there a lot of reasons why tech companies like itself have a hard time recruiting and keeping women and minorities. Those include that women only earn about 18% of computer science degrees in the U.S., and blacks and Hispanics make up under 10% of all college grads, and together have less than 5% of computer science degrees.

He points out that since 2010, he has given more than $40 million to promote computer science education to women and minorities.

But it said the bottom line was that the company was "miles" from where it wanted to be, and that admitting the problem is an important part of finding the solution.

Google already appears to be looking. Jessica González, National Hispanic Media Coalition executive VP and general counsel, spoke with a Google representative Wednesday who committed to improving those Latino hire numbers.

"Obviously these numbers leave much to be desired," said NHMC President Alex Nogales. "However, I am encouraged that Google has taken the important first step necessary for any company to truly transform its inclusion of diversity: transparently face up to the numbers and admit that it has a problem."