By Marisa Kendall
The Mercury News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Can new technologies solve Silicon Valley’s diversity problem? As Marisa Kendall of the Mercury News reports some start-ups are certainly tapping into a potentially lucrative market.
SAN JOSE, Calif.
It’s one of the tech industry’s biggest embarrassments. But for a handful of startups, Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity is also a money-making machine.
Capitalizing on the pressure Bay Area tech companies face to hire and promote more women and people of color, a new class of startups has emerged peddling diversity-focused services.
Some offer recruitment tools intended to find job candidates outside the pool of white male applicants tech companies usually turn to, or they sell software that helps companies analyze their diversity metrics and determine where they need to improve.
It’s unclear to what extent these new technologies can solve Silicon Valley’s diversity problem, but they’re tapping into a potentially lucrative market. The annual diversity reports released by major tech firms have shown little improvement, despite the companies’ promises to make their workplaces more inclusive.
“Diversity is both a big problem and opportunity,” said Eric Kim, co-founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Goodwater Capital.
San Francisco-based recruiting startup Teamable, for example, says it recently helped Lyft diversify its engineering team. The percentage of Lyft engineers who belong to underrepresented groups has doubled since the ride-hailing company started using the service, Teamable co-founder and CEO Laura Bilazarian said.
These startups are addressing a clear need. Federal investigators earlier this month revealed they have accused Google of paying its female employees less than its male employees, a charge the company denies. And Uber in recent weeks has faced intense backlash over allegations that the company did nothing to stop sexual harassment against female employees.
In its first diversity report, the ride-hailing company last month said women fill just 15 percent of its tech-related roles, and many Silicon Valley tech companies don’t do much better.