Silicon Valley’s ageist culture is bad for workers – and business

Google-HQ-sliderGoogle confessed last week that it has a miserable record hiring and retaining women and minorities. The tech giant responded to public pressure – including protests at the company’s annual meeting led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson – released data about the gender and ethnic makeup of its workforce, and the numbers aren’t pretty. Women make up just 30 percent of Google’s workforce, and the company is 61 percent white. Asians represent 30 percent of Google’s workers, but Hispanics represent 3 percent and African Americans just 2 percent.

Yet Google didn’t disclose one of the most important diversity statistic about its workers: their age.

Age plays second fiddle in Corporate America to racial and gender workforce diversity, but it needs to be addressed. The country is getting grayer; workers need – and want – to stay employed longer. Workforce diversity problems aren’t unique to Google, of course. But Silicon Valley has a uniquely youth-oriented work culture, and ageism is rampant, as Noam Scheiber reported in the current issue of The New Republic. Fairness issues aside, there’s a strong case to be made that a diverse workforce is good for business.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, discussed the issue of diversity in Silicon Valley on the PBS NewsHour recently.

Photo: Branden Flasch, via Flickr