by Sharon Florentine

Companies delay diversity reports — what’s the hold up?

Jan 12, 2017
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No news is probably bad news when Silicon Valley companies delay the release of their 2016 reports on diversity and inclusion.

No news is good news … unless we’re talking about Silicon Valley’s delay in releasing their 2016 diversity statistics.

On December 6, the Wall Street Journal reported that companies including Twitter, Pinterest and Salesforce were delaying their diversity reports, despite the passing of almost 16 months since their last update. Google and Facebook’s reports were released mid-summer, and showed that despite a lot of talk about “moving the needle” on diversity, equality and inclusion, not much had actually changed in the makeup of those two companies’ workforces.

Now, I’m aware that none of these companies had any kind of hard-and-fast rule that said they’d release reports every 12 months, on the dot. But, as Melanie Ehrenkranz at writes, the issue is transparency and showing a public commitment not just to diversity and inclusion, but in measuring improvement and learning from the data. Which you cannot do if you’re not releasing the data.

“Releasing reports is just the beginning. Companies in Silicon Valley have yet to show any significant improvements in their hiring of women and minorities. But diversity reports aren’t another fluff piece for companies. They are, and have always been, about transparency. Transparency isn’t releasing a report when numbers meet expectations, it’s releasing a report no matter what. A lack of transparency indicates that public commitments to diversity may not be as much of a priority to a company as they claim,” Ehrenkranz says.

At least in the case of Google and Facebook, the companies were willing to publicly show that they’re not making much progress, instead of hiding behind flimsy PR statements about “rethinking goals” and “gathering more data.” What data are you waiting to gather? You either hired and/or retained more underrepresented minorities and women, or you didn’t — unless they’re planning on a frenzied, frantic hiring spree before the reports actually are released.

I’m reading between the lines a bit, here, but it sounds to me like they’ve failed to make diversity, inclusion and equality a priority and thus, missed their goals. If that’s the case, just say it. Transparency and openness, right?

“Delaying diversity reports defeats the purpose of the reports altogether, which is to hold companies accountable for their public commitments to diversity. If you’re unfamiliar with the companies’ internal strategy, their long wait might seem like a shady move. It makes companies look like they treat diversity reports like press releases: holding out for the best possible moment to release their most perfectly polished results for public consumption and critique,” writes Ehrenkranz. I agree with her. Show us the reports, already, so we can get back to the actual work of making diversity and inclusion a priority and just maybe moving the needle a bit.