Video above: Jill aka me confronting Eric Schmidt publicly during the 2008 Democratic National Convention at the Big Tent’s Digg Stage during a talk on the Internet and Politics. He gave the lamest of answers to my questions about Google’s hiring practices and lack of diversity. Starts at 29:19. Transcript of him admitting bias at Google and basically lying to Rachel Maddow’s and my face after the jump

The President, I hear, is having a very exclusive dinner tonight with the top CEOs of Silicon Valley. From the Caucus, a gossipy post:

President Obama will sit down for dinner with a dozen of the titans of the American technology industry Thursday night at the Silicon Valley home of the venture capitalist John Doerr, according to two people familiar with the president’s plans.

[...]

Expected to attend, to discuss what White House officials said would be the president’s efforts to promote innovation, are: Steve Jobs, the C.E.O. of Apple; Eric Schmidt, the chairman and C.E.O. of Google; and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and C.E.O. of Facebook.

[...]

In addition to Mr. Doerr, Mr. Jobs, Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Zuckerberg, the president will meet with the following executives, according to the White House:

Carol Bartz, president and C.E.O., Yahoo; John Chambers, C.E.O. and chairman, Cisco Systems; Dick Costolo, C.E.O., Twitter; Larry Ellison, co-founder and C.E.O., Oracle; Reed Hastings, C.E.O., NetFlix; John Hennessy, president of Stanford University; Art Levinson, chairman and former C.E.O., Genentech; and Steve Westly, managing partner and founder, the Westly Group.


Wow…that sounds like a hot dinner party. You know who’s NOT invited? Anyone who’s not white. Yes, see, that’s Silicon Valley’s dirty little Jim Crow secret. They have a terrible — and worsening! — record on hiring women and minorities. A record, btw, they’re working hard to keep quiet cuz it’s not a good look.

The miracle of the tech sector, which Obama wishes to learn about to invigorate other industries, is only a miracle for some people. Minority leaders in the Bay Area staged a protest at the Googleplex today. From Black Voices:

Saying the Silicon Valley tech industry needs to do a better job of hiring native-born blacks, Latinos and some other minority groups, minority leaders picketed Google’s Mountain View headquarters Tuesday, asking the Internet giant and other large valley companies to disclose their workplace diversity data.

The protest, organized by the Black Economic Council, the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles, and the National Asian American Coalition was sparked by a series of reports in the Mercury News last year. The protest drew about two dozen people to the Googleplex, as minority leaders criticized Google, Apple and 20 other Silicon Valley tech companies that refused to share their workforce diversity data with them. The leaders called on the federal government to review the H-1B work visa program that tech companies use to hire engineers from abroad, unless the companies comply.

The groups are filing a complaint with the federal government, saying of 34 Silicon Valley tech companies from which they requested workforce data, just 12 agreed to share it. The groups are asking the government to force the companies to disclose their data. They said they singled out Google for Thursday’s protest because of its growth and visibility.

Hmm…the leading tech companies’ answer so far to the shortage of trained workers in America to ahem…win the future…has been to either outsource to or import talent from other countries with better, more equitable educational systems churning out more techies, engineers and scientists than we are. So far, there just doesn’t seem to be much interest in investing here in training American workers among leading tech companies. Sure, these powerful and beloved companies have directly or indirectly created hundreds of thousands of jobs — heck, perhaps even mine! But how many more could be created here, if they actually tried harder?

I hope Obama’s listening tour with the brilliant minds of Silicon Valley includes some hard questions. If social media is now dominated by women, would it make business sense to hire more of them? You know, to make stuff they like even more? If America is becoming increasingly diverse, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure the software and hardware of the future meets their needs to keep sales up? Brown people of African descent aren’t just good for starring in commercials shilling software and cell phones — we can learn how to use tha Twitter just fine. Egypt proved that.

Look, y’all – I confronted Eric Schmidt publicly during the 2008 Democratic National Convention at the Big Tent during a talk on internet and politics with Rachel Maddow (see video above and actual transcript below). He gave the lamest and most squirrelly of answers to my questions about the lack of diversity at Google. So lame and so squirrelly that his handlers privately begged me not to blog about it because “they (Google) were sincere about working on it.” Just wait and see, they said. Well I’m done waiting cuz it’s time for some realness. I’d suggest that the Prez keep it real-real and let us see what they’re hiding. Because the future of our nation depends on it. And I’d suggest that you take a hard look at this study from the San Jose Merc that exposed the Jim Crow underbelly of Silicon Valley and some of the world’s most popular, most powerful and most innovative companies.

Hispanics and blacks made up a smaller share of the valley’s computer workers in 2008 than they did in 2000, a Mercury News review of federal data shows, even as their share grew across the nation. Women in computer-related occupations saw declines around the country, but they are an even smaller proportion of the work force here.

The trend is striking in a region where Hispanics are nearly one-quarter of the working-age population — five times their percentage of the computer work force — and when dual-career couples and female MBAs are increasingly the norm.

It is also evident in the work forces of the region’s major companies. An analysis by the Mercury News of the combined work force of 10 of the valley’s largest companies — including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Cisco Systems, eBay and AMD — shows that while the collective work force of those 10 companies grew by 16 percent between 1999 and 2005, an already small population of black workers dropped by 16 percent, while the number of Hispanic workers declined by 11 percent. By 2005, only about 2,200 of the 30,000 Silicon Valley-based workers at those 10 companies were black or Hispanic.

The share of women at those 10 companies declined to 33 percent in 2005, from 37 percent in 1999. There was also a decline in the share of management-level jobs held by women.

Yeah, nephew, you read that right. A decline. Why the big drop at the height of the recession — last hired, first fired? That is a nasty, dark and dirty secret indeed. If the companies of the future — companies you and I love & use daily — aren’t willing to figure out how to nurture America’s untapped talent, why should we think that other industries will be smarter than them? If they shrug their shoulders at the thought of creating jobs for the majority of our nation (women and minorities added up together would equal that, wouldn’t they?), why should we think other industries will be more willing to do so…?

Here’s the transcript of the video above starting at 29:19 and my question to Eric Schmidt. Let’s be clear: he cravenly says what he thinks the audience wants to hear. If Google’s doing such a great job with hiring and recruiting and is a model for the nation — why is Schmidt actively hiding Google’s workforce diversity statistics even as women and minorities have lost ground in SIlicon Valley?

JT: What do you have to say to those who have raised concerns about the hiring practices at Google in regards to diversity? They say that 2 heads are better than one: how many heads are Black, Latino, Asian, etc.

ES: We’ve actually looked at this pretty carefully and we’re pretty happy with the way our recruiting works. We do team recruiting and we’re very thorough about people’s backgrounds and so forth. We have a pretty aggressive outreach program and we measure bias whereever we can. An interesting example is that we studied male vs female engineering recruiting and it turns out that statistically, the grading that we did for male engineering recruits was predictive and the rating that we did during the interview process for the women that we hired was anti-correlative. In other words, it was completely wrong.

So we had actual data that showed what was a bizarre sort of a bias that existed in our system and we changed our system to correct that. So we’re good enough analytically to look at hiring practices and outcomes and actually correlate back to see – was there some sort of systematic bias and if we could find it, we could correct it. And I think that’s going to be the hiring standards going forward for most companies because it’s such an important issue. They’re really going to check whether – did they somehow have a bias that prevented them from getting a superstar.

JT (off mic): Have you done a similar study with African-Americans and Latinos?

ES: We’ve done it with women. It’s harder for African-Americans and Latinos because we had such a small set coming in and so the blunt answer there is that you have to take affirmative action. You literally have to go special sourcing for those categories. It’s very very important that our workforce reflect the diversity of the world. Diversity is the answer at every level. You get better products, you get a better culture, the branding is better – there’s all sorts of reasons why diversity is the answer.

Rachel Maddow (looking shocked and concerned, a uneasy feeling shared by the audience): And are you doing affirmative action towards African-Americans?

ES: (nods head) And similarly with sexual preference.

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