- White and female applicants to positions at a selection of eight Silicon Valley technology firms were more likely to receive interviews and offers than men as well as Black, Hispanic and Asian applicants, according to a study published in August by researchers at the New York University Stern School of Business.
- The researchers completed the analysis by examining historical applicant tracking system data from the companies, which included 890,000 applicants across 6,113 job openings from 2014 to 2018, as well as a dataset of 300 million public LinkedIn profiles. Female applicants were 9% to 10% more likely to receive a callback compared to male applicants, while Black, Hispanic and Asian applicants were 8% to 13% less likely to receive a callback compared to White applicants, according to the study.
- The researchers also implemented a "quasi-experiment" in which applicants's gender and race identities were ambiguous during the application review stage. Per the study, this ambiguity "attenuates" the main effects of race and gender on receiving a callback.
Companies both inside and outside of the tech industries continue to implement goals to improve diverse and inclusive representation in a year that has seen leaders place increased emphasis on D&I.
The Stern researchers noted, however, that the technology firms examined in the study "invested significant resources into their diversity efforts," adding that the firms' engagement in diversity efforts "makes a particularly relevant setting to study hiring in the context of organizational diversity efforts."
Companies can address underrepresentation of minorities in tech in a variety of ways, per the study, including by encouraging minority candidates to apply, seeking out and prospecting members of minority groups and giving preferences to members of minority groups in the hiring process. "Of course, diversity efforts in the hiring process address only a small portion of the problem of underrepresentation – if the organizational culture is not inclusive and retaining minorities becomes difficult, any effort exerted in the hiring process becomes unsustainable in the long term," the researchers said.
In addition to these strategies, recent studies have identified other potential methods of improving diversity. In July, a report highlighted by Harvard Business Review suggested it may be possible to improve talent pipeline diversity by partitioning candidate applicants into different categories, allowing recruiters to select some options from each group. An August working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found employers may be able to improve diversity by using hiring algorithms that account for candidates' unique backgrounds and work histories.
Recent research also suggests a business case for racial diversity within tech industry companies. A study published in June in the Academy of Management Journal found high tech firms that had high levels of diversity in both upper management and lower management "realized superior productivity" compared to organizations with lower diversity.
The ongoing global discussion around systemic inequality has led to notable changes at some of the largest U.S. companies. Some have pledged, for example, to tie executive compensation to company progress on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including Starbucks, Wells Fargo and Uber.