Tech

Tech companies have made big promises, and small gains, for diversity and inclusion

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Why tech companies struggle with diversity and inclusion

It's a story that's been told time and time again: Tech companies are just not diverse enough.

Tech companies supply some of the most financially beneficial jobs on the market. According to Tarika Barrett of Girls Who Code, technical jobs pay twice the average salary. By 2020, there could be 1 million unfilled tech jobs.

"And these are the jobs that can lift entire families up into the middle class," Barrett said.

Diversity in the tech industry is crucial for technical progress. CNBC's Jon Fortt described it like this: "Women, people of color, often have different experiences. And with that can come diversity of thought, and it's shown that diversity of thought can really aid organizations." According to a report from the Boston Consulting Group, companies with more diverse leadership teams report higher innovation revenues.

But tech companies are still lagging when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

In 2014, a year after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent founding of the Black Lives Matter movement, some Big Tech companies started reporting their workplace demographics and promised to increase diversity.

According to the available data from 10 major U.S. tech companies gathered between 2014 and 2019, the percentage of women in these workforces increased less than 2%. The reports that specified gender and race said most of these women were White. The gender data doesn't consider transgender or gender nonconforming employees, and only one of the 10 companies reported nonbinary employee demographics. 

The percentage of Black employees increased less than 3% during the same period. The number of Hispanic employees increased about 1% and the number of Indigenous employees decreased about .01%. The diversity data shows that Asian employees made up about 30% of tech workforces in 2019.

CNBC explored why it's challenging for Big Tech to diversify and what experts say should be done to solve the problem. Watch CNBC's deep-dive into the lack of diversity in U.S. tech companies.

Join CNBC's Inclusion in Action Forum on Thursday, September 10. Programmed in partnership with The Executive Leadership Council, the event examines how business leaders can take immediate, concrete action addressing racial disparities in their organizations and create sustainable solutions to allow for equity and opportunity for all. Featured speakers include Blavity's Morgan DeBaun, IBM's Ginni Rometty, Carnival's Arnold Donald, Uber's Bo Young Lee, Kearney's Alex Liu, Washington Football Teams's Jason Wright and more. Register here.