The silver lining of Google’s diversity efforts

Google has had a big week around diversity. The company gifted a $2.8 million office space inside its New York City building to Black Girls Code, appointed Roger Ferguson, an African-American finance executive, to its board of directors, and released its latest diversity report.

Most of this was good news. Having a space inside Google’s office could potentially give Black Girls Code more access to mentorship and internship opportunities at the company. It also means that Google employees in New York will be able to have regular interactions with young girls of color. Ferguson’s appointment to the board of directors marks the first time Google has had a black board member, which is important for the sake of equal representation at the top. In Google’s latest diversity report, we saw that overall representation of women went from 30% female in 2014 to 31% female in 2015.

Here’s where the bad news comes in: the overall percentage of black and Hispanic people did not increase at all, with overall representation of blacks remaining at 2% and Hispanics remaining at 3%. In 2015, only 4% of Google’s hires were black and 5% of its hires were Hispanic.

If Google really wants to move the needle, the company needs to stop hiring such small numbers of black and Hispanic people. Although Google did not break out what group made up the majority of its 2015 hires, my bet is that the majority of hires last year were white. It feels as if Google was buttering us up all week so that when the bad news dropped, it wouldn’t sting as badly.