Are Tech Companies Giving American Minorities the Short End of the Stick?



Top universities are graduating black and Hispanic computer science and engineering students at twice the rate that technology companies are hiring them, a new USA Today analysis finds.

The analysis reveals that “on average, just 2 percent of technology workers at seven Silicon Valley companies that have released staffing numbers are black; 3 percent are Hispanic.” However, “last year, 4.5 percent of all new recipients of bachelor’s degrees in computer science or computer engineering from prestigious research universities were African American, and 6.5 percent were Hispanic.”

The report indicates that the disparity is related to recruiters targeting specific universities for employees (which may be partially true), but it fails to mention the ompact foreign guest worker programs and cheap labor interests have on the employment of America’s minority groups.

The USA Today analysis illustrates two important items. 

First, the nation boasts a robust minority workforce, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, and this group is going untapped. But this talented workforce isn’t just limited to American minority groups. A separate study found that only about a third of all Americans with college degrees in STEM fields hold STEM jobs. Even more startling, some 20 million Americans between February and April 2020 lost their jobs in high-tech and specialty occupations as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

So why are these specialty workers not being utilized? That brings us to the second point, which is that tech companies crave cheap foreign labor. These employers very well know that compensation for foreign guest workers is generally lower than for American workers.

A recent report from the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that most of these employers are “taking advantage of a flawed H-1B (visa) prevailing wage rule to underpay their workers relative to market wage standards, resulting in major savings in labor costs for companies that use the H-1B.”

The disparities found in the USA Today findings can only make one think that tech companies are aiming to lower their costs in any way imaginable—even at the expense of not hiring American minorities despite these companies preaching “diversity in the workplace.”

To combat these self-interested companies, President Trump recently signed an executive order that temporarily halts the admission of foreign guest worker programs in these types of industries. The order prioritizes America’s workforce and ensures that greedy companies are not exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to import more cheap foreign labor. 

The USA Today analysis helps reaffirm that the president’s order was necessary and also officially puts the notion that employers cannot find skilled Americans, especially in STEM fields, to bed.

About Author

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Matthew joined FAIR in 2018 as FAIR’s communications specialist. Matthew is a primary media contact for the organization and assists with all of the organization’s communication activities. He brings previous experience in government research, writing, and communications. Before joining FAIR, Matthew worked in the Wisconsin State Senate as well as a Wisconsin political non-profit. Matthew holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.