Silicon Valley runs on the fuel of great ideas, and as an innovative community we can’t afford to miss out on the creativity of new and emerging talent.
Yet the numbers indicate that we could do better: of the CEOs of the Fortune 500, currently only four are Black, 41 are women, and 16 are Hispanic.
These figures represent not only significant missed economic opportunities—they also underscore the broader systemic challenges that we must overcome. This means paying special attention to voices of those who have been historically marginalized and taking concrete steps to promote more inclusive workplaces.
Following the social unrest of 2020, SVLG CEO Ahmad Thomas has strengthened SVLG’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. In an effort to catalyze change in the business community, we are setting up a framework for some of the world’s most dynamic companies to commit to meaningful hiring metrics. We’ve also created a multimedia communications platform where Silicon Valley companies can share best practices and discuss how they're tackling the work of transforming the face of business leadership for the future.
Diversifying at the top will improve our society by magnifying voices that have been previously excluded from corporate America, leading to more inclusive decision making by some of our country’s largest economic powerhouses.
This isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also good business. In study after study, diverse workplaces have proven to be more productive and creative than more homogenous ones, with diverging perspectives leading to more innovation. (Deloitte: Diversity wins - How inclusion matters)
According to Deloitte, in 2019, companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity were 36% more likely to outperform the national industry median than companies in the bottom quartile. Gender diversity had a similar, if lesser, effect: also in 2019, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely than those in the bottom quartile to outperform the industry median.
Here at SVLG, we don’t just talk the talk - we now have our most diverse staff ever. We have done this by consciously sourcing a diverse group of candidates and choosing the most qualified person for the job. But our work is still unfinished. We and members of SVLG remain committed to a journey of continuous improvement to create a more equitable environment for all Californians.
To this end, in 2021, SVLG established Pledge 25×25, which challenges Silicon Valley and Bay Area companies to fill 25 percent of their executive positions with hires from underrepresented groups by the year 2025. While Pledge 25x25 helps to cement the commitment of our member companies toward this shared goal, SVLG has also identified a need to help identify qualified candidates, in particular for board positions at leading companies.
In August 2021 the Leadership Group launched the Next Generation Board Network, an industry-leading board readiness program for diverse executives, sponsored by EY and Equilar.
Our work on 25x25 builds on the momentum of California’s AB 979, the landmark legislation to diversify corporate board rooms. Last year, SVLG was the first and only major business association in California to support the bill.
While we’re enthusiastic about these upcoming initiatives, we also know that this work is long overdue. We’re committed to sustained work in the areas of equity, inclusion and social justice in Silicon Valley not only because it’s needed here, but also because our community is by its nature a model whose choices reverberate throughout the world. As changemakers, SVLG and our members are ready for the challenge.