For a first-hand lesson in the timidity of corporate America, look no further than Intel Corp. This January, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker announced it would set aside $300 million by 2020 for hiring, training and promoting “underrepresented” racial minorities and women. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich revealed the plan at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas only weeks after he and other top company officials had met privately with Jesse Jackson. The announcement was a triumph for Jackson’s Silicon Valley shakedown campaign. “It’s a huge first step,” he declared, urging other tech firms to follow suit. Given the acquiescence of eBay, Google and Facebook to Jackson at shareholder meetings last May, it is no surprise those companies are doing just that.
National Legal and Policy Center long has shone a spotlight on Jesse Jackson. The Chicago-based civil-rights hustler and former presidential candidate, through his nonprofit Rainbow/PUSH, has built a lucrative career in bullying corporations into instituting affirmative action goals, quotas and timetables – or to use the preferred term, “diversity.” Like his New York City counterpart, Al Sharpton, Jackson confronts white executives of a given company; demands they divert resources toward blacks; and threatens a boycott, a lawsuit or other hostile act if his target doesn’t cooperate. Usually, the target does cooperate, and with a generous “contribution” to Rainbow/PUSH or the Jackson-controlled Citizenship Education Fund. Toyota, Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo are but a few of the companies over the years who have reached historic “agreements” with Jackson. For him, only lingering white racism, or apathy to it, stands in the way of achieving social justice.
Last March, Jackson kicked off his Silicon Valley diversity campaign by leading a delegation into Hewlett-Packard’s annual shareholder meeting, where he skewered the company for its allegedly discriminatory practices. Two months later, he took his act to shareholder conventions of eBay, Google and Facebook. Jackson was indignant that these (and other) information technology leaders hadn’t done enough to hire, retain, train and promote blacks and other “people of color.” Qualified individuals from such “underrepresented” groups can be found, he insisted, if employers made the effort to find them. “The ‘we can’t find them’ syndrome is a thing of the past,” Jackson badgered Facebook management and shareholders. “Who is looking? And where are ‘they’ looking? We can find them, if we look in the right places.” Jackson was operating on the assumption that being a member of a minority group constitutes a right to a job offer. Conveniently, he left ethnic Asians out of the equation. Though a minority, Asians constitute a much higher percentage share of the Silicon Valley labor force than of the overall U.S. labor force. He could not bring himself to ask why Asians came to be “overrepresented.” For all intents and purposes, Jackson was pushing the envelope on behalf of fellow blacks, and secondarily, Hispanics.
Education, skills, experience and character presumably are the most crucial traits of a successful work force. Moreover, the employer, and not an outside force, would seem to reserve the right to set hiring, promotion and other personnel criteria. Jesse Jackson sees things differently. Ever on the lookout for “discrimination,” intentional or not, he will pounce on any company supposedly guilty of it. Over the last year, Jackson has made the nation’s information technology industry the focus of his indignation. His latest target is Intel Corp., the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductor chips, expanding as of late into wearable and mobile devices, and video games. With a worldwide workforce of more than 100,000, the company makes for a target-rich environment. Last December, Jackson sat down with top company executives to hector them for not doing more to hire, train and promote nonwhites, and impose such a regime upon suppliers. Having been properly tutored, Intel, with an apparently unacceptable 24 percent female and 4 percent black work force, responded the next month with public groveling.
On the evening of January 6, Intel Corp. CEO Brian Krzanich, delivering the keynote address at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, announced that his company was pledging $300 million through 2020 to fund the hiring, training, retention and promotion of women and underrepresented minorities. Most of that money would come out of existing diversity programs, though some funds would be diverted from other activities. This “Parity 2020” initiative, Krzanich emphasized, is about inclusion. “It’s time to step up and do more. It’s not good enough to say we value diversity,” he proclaimed. He stated that executive compensation would be tied to progress in reaching numerical goals. By early this year, Intel had created nearly 60 “diversity” metrics corresponding to race, sex and other traits. Overseeing the proceedings from his front row seat was Jesse Jackson. A little over a week after the Las Vegas event, Krzanich, accompanied by Jackson and noted black radical Van Jones (see photo), showed up at the 18th Annual Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit, where he reiterated his pledge.
Intel Chief Diversity Officer Roz Hudnell is the point person for the company’s demographic transformation program. She stated at the Economic Summit that the campaign is good for the company’s balance sheets because more females will want to play video games and more minorities will want to form gaming teams. That would seem a thin justification for coaxing an entire corporation into Embracing Diversity in cult-like fashion. Hudnell also issued an implicit threat toward dissenters within the company. In a recent interview with PC World magazine, she summarized the new hiring policy: “You have people who by nature make decisions in favor of people like them, and when the majority of the workforce is men, then you have to put [managers] in place to ensure women have equal access to opportunity.” She noted in the interview that this policy will extend to Intel’s investments in women- and minority-owned companies. “We’ll be very clear and transparent about what we’re looking for,” Hudnell said. “We’ll have a diverse advisory board that will probably make those decisions.”
It isn’t just Intel that is capitulating to Jesse Jackson. The three tech corporations whom Jesse Jackson scolded last May – eBay, Google and Facebook – each subsequently stepped up their already considerable affirmative action programs. Let us summarize.
eBay. Last July 31, e-commerce leader eBay published an annual report on its progress in meeting diversity goals. The company’s domestic workforce composition broke down this way: white (61 percent); Asian (24 percent); black (7 percent); Hispanic (5 percent); and other/multi-racial (2 percent). And its global sex, er…gender breakdown was 58 percent male and 42 percent female. The accompanying statement, a typical mix of self-flagellation and self-congratulation, reads almost like a parody of diversity consultants’ monitoring report:
As our data shows, we have made progress in some areas. But we still have much work to do.
While we are committed to fostering all types of diversity, increasing the number of women in leadership roles has been an early focus. About three years ago, eBay Inc. President and CEO John Donahue launched our Women’s Initiative Network (WIN). The mission of WIN is to attract and engage women to build lasting, successful careers in the company. Through WIN, we have more than doubled the number of women in leadership roles and increased the share of leadership positions held by women. And we have continued to expand WIN around the world. Supporting our commitment to women, we maintain partnerships with the Anita Borg Institute and Lean In. And we leverage insights from the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, as well as from leading academics. In various leadership forums, we provide ongoing diversity and inclusion training, including gender diversity and unconscious bias.
Support for our LGBT workforce also has been a strong commitment. We are honored to have received a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) every year since 2009. We actively recruit from the LGBT community and we provide progressive benefits. And we publicly advocate for equal rights for same-sex couples…
In common with others in our industry, we continue to work hard to recruit skilled technologists from diverse backgrounds. We use career sites including Black Planet, Black Women Connect, African-American Careers, National Society of Hispanic MBAs and several others.
This Celebration of Diversity somehow did not earn kudos from the mainstream press. Time magazine tech/culture columnist Eliana Dockterman, after praising eBay for employing more women, blacks and Hispanics than its peers in a tech industry “notoriously dominated by white and Asian men,” scolded the firm for its “huge gender gap” in leadership positions (28% for women) and lack of blacks and Hispanics (2% for each). In the land where Diversity rules, no good deed goes unpunished.
Google. Having been dressed down by Jesse Jackson at its shareholder meeting at Mountain View, Calif. headquarters, Google announced its intent to release company “diversity” numbers. It followed through soon enough. On the company blog site, Laszlo Bock, Google vice president for people operations, posted this message on May 28:
We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.
Bock then provided the numbers. Men outnumbered women 70 percent to 30 percent. Whites and Asians, respectively, comprised 61 percent and 30 percent of all employees, whereas blacks and Hispanics made up a respective 2 percent and 3 percent. To rectify this “problem,” as the blog described it, the company is investing heavily in education:
There are lots of reasons why technology companies like Google struggle to recruit and retain women and minorities. For example, women earn roughly 18 percent of all computer science degrees in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics each make up under 10 percent of U.S. college grads and each collect fewer than 10 percent of degrees in CS majors. So we’ve invested a lot of time and energy in education.
Among other things, since 2010 we’ve given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls. And we’ve been working with historically black colleges and universities to elevate coursework and attendance in computer science. For example, this year Google engineer Charles Pratt was in-residence at Howard University, where he revamped the school’s Intro to CS curriculum.
Facebook. Last June, only weeks after Jesse Jackson inflicted himself upon the Facebook shareholder meeting in Redwood City, Calif., the company responded by releasing a diversity progress report. Males, the report stated, constituted 53 percent of team members and 77 percent of senior-level employees. As for race, technical employees broke down as: white (53 percent); Asian (41 percent); Hispanic (3 percent); and black (1 percent). For non-technical employees, the figures were: white (63 percent); Asian (24 percent); Hispanic (6 percent); and black (2 percent). And for senior-level personnel, the numbers were: white (74 percent); Asian (19 percent); Hispanic (4 percent); and black (2 percent).
Were the multicultural bean counters satisfied? At least Asians – all of them “people of color” – were heavily represented. Yet one bean counter, Josh Constine, wasn’t satisfied. Constine, a blogger for techcrunch.com, weighed in with this prim rebuke:
Facebook has just released its employee diversity report, and here’s our chart comparing it to Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn. While you could conclude that Facebook is a bit more diverse than Google and bit less than the others, they all get an “F” for being heavily skewed male, white and Asian…
Constine was willing to give credit where it was due, unwittingly exposing just how much the company has acquiesced to people like him:
Facebook outlined a number of initiatives its Strategic Diversity team has been working on to enhance equality amongst genders and ethnicities. Facebook University is a program that provides undergraduate freshmen from underrepresented groups with internships at Facebook. It has partnerships with Girls Who Code, Code 2040, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Management Leadership for Tomorrow. It’s working with Yes We Code to help connect 100,000 “low opportunity youth” to computer programming education programs.
Facebook also provides unconscious bias training to employees to help them nullify racism and sexism they may be expressing without knowing it. It also has an inclusive benefits program that aids employees across the sexual preference spectrum, and Employee Resource Groups that helps support employees from different ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQ community, and military veterans.
Blaming these companies isn’t the answer, though. While hiring practices could certainly improve, they’re dealing with systemic inequality.
For sheer insufferableness, Josh Constine may be worse than Jesse Jackson. If nothing else, he’d fit right in at Facebook or anywhere else in Silicon Valley as a diversity and inclusion monitor.
Can other Silicon Valley companies, from LinkedIn to Yahoo, resist the pull of such warped activism? Most likely they won’t. It has become almost axiomatic: The larger the corporation, the more vulnerable a target it presents for a boycott or a lawsuit, and thus the more likely it is to grovel before its accusers. Jesse Jackson has been a major catalyst in creating this situation and a major beneficiary of it. He and Rainbow/PUSH colleagues, having no idea how to run a for-profit information technology enterprise, or indeed any enterprise, are more than eager to enlighten corporate officials as to their public duties.
Yet the problem is far larger than Jesse Jackson. For even if he and every other radical black identity politician were to retire today, the culture of ethno-racial and sexual egalitarianism would remain in place. The problem is also diversity divisions within corporations, and diversity consultants outside corporations, whose mission it is to intimidate company management and employees into revealing their own ostensibly unconscious “biases.” It’s the “civil rights” lawyers at the Justice Department and other federal agencies, champing at the bit for a pretext to file massive disparate impact lawsuits. And it’s the legions of hard-Left bloggers, each as smug and intolerant as the next, who delight in exposing the racism, sexism and homophobia supposedly underlying every statistical irregularity in American life.
Back in 2007, I wrote a Special Report for National Legal and Policy Center titled, “The Authoritarian Roots of Corporate Diversity Training: Jane Elliott’s Captive Eyes and Minds.” The report explained how major American companies, partly out of fear of lawsuits and partly out of Stockholm Syndrome-style bonding with their accusers, are becoming centers of radicalism. Convinced of the need to root out subconscious biases that ostensibly inhibit company teamwork, corporate executives are forcing infantalizing grade school-level instruction upon employees, while blocking job opportunities for qualified white males. When people like Jesse Jackson say “jump,” businessmen typically respond, “How high?” Here’s an alternative response: “Get lost.”