Even tech companies with a commitment to boosting the diversity of their workforce are finding gains hard to come by.
A case in point is Apple.
The iPhone maker released new data Monday night showing that the company's highest ranks remain even more white and male than the company as a whole.
Just 20 of Apple's top 107 executives are women, according to a government filing, while only five are from underrepresented minority groups (defined as black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American or Hawaiian/Pacific Islander). Another 14 executives are Asian, while the remaining 88 are white.
Those numbers are roughly unchanged from a year ago.
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In the next layer of management, women made up 27 percent of the workforce. More than 65 percent of those managers and mid-level executives are white, 23 percent are Asian, with just 11 percent from underrepresented minority groups and 1 percent who define themselves as multiracial. As with the executive ranks, those numbers are little different than they were in 2015.
The data is included in a form known as the EEO-1, which companies must file with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Even while publicly sharing the data, Apple has said that the EEOC data doesn't reflect how the company itself breaks down its workforce, and is not the way it measures its diversity progress.
In August, Apple released its last public numbers, noting that 32 percent of its workforce was female and 22 percent of employees were from underrepresented minorities. The numbers, which represented slight increases from 2015, reflect global hiring for women, and only the U.S. with regard to underrepresented minorities.
In terms of new hires, Apple's figures were higher than its workforce as a whole, with 37 percent being women and 27 percent being from underrepresented minorities. (The data used for both the EEOC and Apple's companywide diversity report covers the same time period.)
But if Apple's gains are small, at least it's moving in the right direction.
Microsoft, by contrast, released figures last week showing that the overall number of women at the company dropped in 2016 for the second year in a row. Microsoft blamed layoffs in its phone unit for the decline. The total number of black and Latino employees at Microsoft did go up compared to last year, but just barely.
And at least Microsoft and Apple continue to share their data. While many tech companies started sharing diversity reports several years ago, many have yet to offer updates this year, and fewer still have shared this year's EEO-1 filing.
The EEOC, meanwhile, has used aggregate data to highlight that whites, men and Asians are overrepresented in high-tech jobs, while women, blacks and Latinos are less present in the high-tech industry than in the workforce as a whole.
While Apple is ahead of many peers in its percentage of women, and a leader in terms of employing underrepresented minorities, it has not been immune to criticism. Earlier this year, reports from Mic and Gizmodo raised allegations that some corners of Apple were home to a significantly sexist culture.
In an exclusive interview with Recode, Apple HR chief Denise Young Smith said the incidents described in the articles didn't reflect the Apple she knows, but that the company did investigate, adding that "commensurate actions have been taken." Such actions can range from an informal conversation to dismissal, and Apple didn't disclose what actions it took.
—By Ina Fried, Recode.net.
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