Tech companies like Palantir and Oracle have been keeping their diversity stats under wraps citing fear that competitors might poach their talent, among other excuses. However, a new report reveals the real reason was “embarrassment.”
An investigative probe by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting led to findings that showed companies withholding information about their diversity were less diverse than their counterparts.
Data analytics company Palantir, for example, had no female executives and only one white woman among their managers, according to Reveal’s investigation.
The firm filed various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the 2015 EEO-1 report showing the breakdown of a tech company’s workforce by race, gender, and broad job category. While some companies complied, others chose to block the request with claims of protecting “trade secrets.”
Reveal sued the U.S government for alleging that the Labor Department was violating the Freedom of Information Act by failing to release EEO-1 reports from Oracle, Palantir, Pandora Media, Gilead Sciences and Splunk. The Labor Department allowed the five tech firms to block their diversity data for over a year until the lawsuit was filed.
“Thanks to our lawsuit, we now know that just under 13 percent of Oracle’s executives in 2015 were women, including co-CEO Safra Catz,” Reveal reports. “Two-thirds of major Silicon Valley companies had a better representation of female executives that year. And like Palantir, Oracle’s workforce was 90 percent white and Asian.”
Through the lawsuit, the organization was granted numerous letters written by tech companies citing reasons to keep their diversity figures private.
“Keep in mind that the government actually went along with these arguments – until we pushed back,” the outlet warns.
Oracle argued exposing diversity figures would threaten its “competitive advantage” and said releasing the numbers could potentially violate their employee’s right to privacy.
“You could literally just log in to LinkedIn and find out,” Y-Vonne Hutchinson, CEO of ReadySet, a diversity solutions firm in Oakland told Reveal. “It’s far more likely that what they’re actually concerned about is that their numbers are disappointing.”
Palantir and Gilead Sciences claimed diversity in the workplace “is a business imperative” while Oracle and Pandora stated unveiling their diversity stats would lead to “raiding of minority or female employees.”
Read the full investigative piece here.