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November 17, 2014

USA Today Three blacks, one Hispanic sit on major high-tech boards

Three blacks, one Hispanic sit on major high-tech boards

Jessica Guynn, USATODAY 7:48 p.m. EDT October 24, 2014
Jesse-Jackson 

(Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO — Three blacks and one Hispanic sit on the boards of 20 major technology companies.

That's according to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which surveyed the companies.

In all, four out of 189 directors are black or Hispanic, the survey found.

Eleven of the 20 companies including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, eBay and Google have no one of color on their boards.

Just three companies Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce.com have a black or Hispanic on their boards, according to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

That means 1.6% of board members at major high-tech companies are black and .5% are Hispanic.

By way of comparison, blacks hold 7.4% and Hispanics hold 3.3% of board seats in the Fortune 500, according to the Alliance for Board Diversity.

The findings reflect a longstanding pattern of exclusion in high-tech from the corporate boards and executives to the rank-and-file, Rev. Jesse Jackson said in an interview on Friday.

He called on technology companies to set goals and timetables to add underrepresented minorities to corporate boards and across their work forces.

"These numbers are horrendous," Jackson said. "It's time for a change."

The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Salesforce.com has two black board members: former Secretary of State and chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell and Gilead Chief Financial Officer Robin Washington.

John Thompson, CEO of privately held Virtual Instruments and former chairman and CEO of Symantec, is chairman of the Microsoft board.

Stanford professor Hector Garcia-Molina sits on the board of Oracle.

Women were not well represented on the boards of major high-tech companies either. Just 36 women are directors of the 20 companies, according to the survey.

But at 19%, that's actually higher than the percentage of women directors in the Fortune 500. Catalyst says women hold just shy of 17% of board seats in the Fortune 500.

In recent months, major technology companies have made public the racial and gender make-up of their work forces.

The reports have confirmed what many had suspected: Staffers for major technology companies are mostly white, Asian and male, and blacks and Hispanics make up a tiny percentage of workers, both technical and non-technical.

Jackson says changing the face of the high-tech industry is the civil rights struggle of the 21st century.

He wants to turn up the pressure on technology companies to take aggressive steps to mirror the communities and the consumers they serve.

He is taking that campaign on the road, speaking at the Platform Summit in Atlanta, at the New York Venture Capital Association and at a forum co-sponsored by USA TODAY and Stanford Law School on Nov. 6.

Rainbow PUSH is also planning to hold a workshop for tech companies in Silicon Valley on Dec. 10.