SAN FRANCISCO — The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, alarmed that technology and gig economy companies are not hiring Hispanics as employees, vendors and consultants, is turning up the heat.
In a letter sent to 32 top companies, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Rep Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), first vice chair, asked for detailed diversity statistics and an accounting of how much partnership and philanthropic spending is allocated to Hispanic-serving and Hispanic-led institutions.
“The tech sector employs 7 million people in the U.S. and accounts for more than $1.3 trillion in economic activity in the nation’s economy. Unfortunately, in tech and ‘gig economy’ companies, Hispanics are routinely underrepresented and underfunded,” they wrote.
Apple, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Uber were among the companies to receive a letter from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The inquiry comes at a critical moment for the tech industry, which is grappling with its lack of racial and ethnic diversity, especially Latinos.
By 2060, more than a quarter of the U.S. population will be Latino, representing more than $1 trillion in economic power and a major opportunity for the tech industry to appeal to a tech-savvy group with its products and services.
Yet in Silicon Valley tech companies, Latinos comprise a distinct minority, making up 6% of employees, versus the 22% of employees in non-tech firms in the area, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hispanics are also underrepresented nationwide in the tech sector at 8% of employees and 3% of executives. At major Silicon Valley tech companies such as Google and Facebook, that percentage is far smaller.
Top universities turn out black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them, a USA TODAY analysis showed.
And it’s not just computer science: Minorities are also sharply underrepresented in non-technical jobs such as sales and administration, with African Americans faring noticeably worse than Hispanics, according to USA TODAY research.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is following the example of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has been pressing Silicon Valley on diversity. It launched the Tech 2020 initiative, a campaign to boost recruitment of African Americans in the tech industry over the next five years. Next week the Congressional Black Caucus is sending its second delegation to Silicon Valley for meetings with top tech companies.
Some of the pointed questions Hispanic lawmakers asked tech companies: How many Hispanics are senior executives or on the board of directors? Who are the three most senior Hispanics? How many Hispanic full-time employees are employed in public policy, federal government relations, state and local government relations, public relations/communications, marketing and legal? How many Hispanics lead those departments? How many Hispanic-owned firms do companies contract with?
Lawmakers say the information will provide a baseline on staffing and corporate social responsibility priorities for the companies.
“The Hispanic community in the United States has played and will continue to play a pivotal role in the social, economic and political development of our country. As we look to the future, the Hispanic community, as the nation’s largest minority group, is well-positioned to help lead the way as our economy undergoes its most recent transformation,” the letter reads. “But we cannot do so if we are not given a seat at the table.”
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