Most large tech companies in Silicon Valley, including Oracle, Palantir Technologies and Tesla, do not release their federally mandated one-page EEO-1 diversity form that they have to submit to the government every year.
Last fall, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting asked 211 of the largest companies for these forms and only 30 have made them public for any year.
Even companies such as Facebook and NetApp that release their EEO-1s as a part of their own, customized diversity reports say the government form doesn’t reflect the nuances of their workforce.
In its diversity report, Facebook mentioned that the EEO-1 report “reflects job groupings and categories that do not align with the way Facebook groups employees internally.”
It’s true. Diversity advocates acknowledge that EEO-1 forms are imperfect.
So. The EEO-1 is flawed as all hell and we need to encourage the federal government to revamp it (later though, assuming the government survives). That said, it is the only standard measure of "diversity" across companies we have now, so it's the best objective data available.
— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) June 25, 2018
The forms also don’t include information about age, sexual orientation or gender identity.
But here’s five reasons why companies should release these forms anyway.
1. EEO-1s are a standardized baseline.
When companies publish diversity stats on their websites, they decide when to do it, how much data to include and what format to use.
Oracle publishes pie charts about its workforce by self-defined job categories and gender, but no information about race or ethnicity. Netflix publishes data on race and gender separately, but nothing about groups such as minority women at the intersection of race and gender.
Palantir and Tesla, on the other hand, do not appear to publish any statistics about their workforces.
This makes industrywide comparisons difficult.
Benchmarking companies on diversity metrics is important, said Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, a sociology professor at the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“Right now, these firms are ranked on their market capitalization, market share and innovation,” he said. “But they don’t have external metrics to know if they’re doing poorly as compared to their peers on diversity.”
EEO-1 forms provide consistency across companies for data broken down by race, gender and job category.
2. EEO-1s are more granular than most diversity reports.
Most diversity reports don’t include specific data about workers in support roles.
They generally classify workers as tech, non-tech, leadership and management. EEO-1 forms capture data about technicians, retail and administrative support workers.
Company reports almost always leave out data on women of color. Reveal’s investigation based on these EEO-1 forms for 177 large tech companies has found that women of color are severely underrepresented in tech, especially in management.
3. EEO-1s give raw numbers, not pie charts and percentages.
EEO-1 forms have detailed employee counts by gender, race and job categories. This means we know how numbers translate into percentages.
Different companies are structured differently and are of varying sizes. Nvidia, for example, had around 5,000 employees in 2016 and only 17 percent of them were women. Intel had more than 50,000 employees and 26 percent of them were women.
Percentages are important when it comes to comparisons, but raw numbers refine our analysis.
NetApp had three black executives out of 36, making them one of the companies with the highest share of black executives in 2016. But there were companies with larger executive rungs, such as Adobe, but no one was black.
4. If diversity reports include EEO-1 data, the cat is out of the bag.
Companies such as NetApp, Google and Slack continue to publish detailed diversity reports with more information in addition to their EEO-1s.
Google recently published its most transparent report to date with attrition data for the first time. Slack published some information about LGBTQ employees and people with disabilities in its workforce. NetApp published data about its board of directors.
There’s value in sharing these EEO-1 reports, even if we don’t agree on the methodology, said Barbara Hardy, NetApp’s global diversity, inclusion and belonging officer.
5. EEO-1s are not a trade secret.
Many federal contractors such as Oracle, Palantir, Pandora, Gilead Sciences, Splunk and Synnex claim their EEO-1 forms are a trade secret. Others, such as PayPal, which claimed these forms to be a secret in the recent past, have released them now.
Reveal filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the U.S. Department of Labor to get these forms. The Labor Department withholds this data from the public, by supporting the companies’ “trade secret” claims.
But if the data is so secret, why are many tech giants already releasing it publicly? Facebook, Google, Salesforce and Intel release their EEO-1 forms publicly every year.
We don’t agree that these forms are secrets, so we’re suing the federal government for these records.
Reporter Will Evans contributed to this story.
Sinduja Rangarajan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cynduja.