(Politico) – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are flying to Silicon Valley next week to press the nation’s biggest technology companies to hire more African-American workers — a sign that the industry’s well-documented diversity problems are starting to generate new political heat in Washington.
It’s an increasingly awkward topic for a tech industry that’s dependent on D.C. for action on an array of priorities, including immigration, tax and patent reform, yet whose workforce doesn’t look like the rest of America. Google, for instance, has disclosed that just 2 percent of its U.S. employees are black, only 3 percent are Hispanic and 70 percent are male.
“My district is right next to Silicon Valley, and for years and years and years, my constituents have been part of those who have not had access to these opportunities, even the ones who have the qualifications, background and skills,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who’s helping to lead the black caucus’ tour next week.
“We always say diversity is good for business, and the tech industry is beginning to understand that,” she said in an interview.
Joining Lee on the trip are CBC’s Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). They plan to meet with senior executives at Apple, Google, Intel, Pandora and SAP to deliver their message.