Microsoft’s New Leadership: Is Tech Embracing Diversity? Not Quite

Having an Indian American and an African American lead one of tech’s largest companies is a positive step, but the industry still has a ways to go.

MIcrosoft CEO Satya Nadella; Microsoft Chairman John W. Thompson Microsoft

Third-generation tech companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo have also done a poor job of recruiting black and Hispanic talent. Unaccustomed to federal regulation, many of these companies have pleaded with the U.S. government to exempt them from having to file EEO-1 forms, through which companies report the ethnicity and gender of employees. They say that the percent of minorities and women they employ is competitive information, and they have fought off efforts by news organizations like the San Jose Mercury News and CNN to obtain the data through Freedom of Information suits.

I think the reluctance to reveal the numbers is mostly because they’re embarrassing. When top executives at these companies begin to believe that their continued success requires a truly diverse workforce, the numbers will begin to improve. Until then, appointments like Nadella and Thompson will be welcome exceptions.

Joel Dreyfuss, a former managing editor of The Root, covered the high-tech industry as a senior editor at Fortune and as editor of several tech publications, including PC Magazine and Red Herring.