TIME Business

Let’s Fix It: Bring Diversity to the C-Suite

Denise Morrison attends the Thrive Arianna Huffington panel during AWXI on October 1, 2014 in New York City.
Denise Morrison attends the Thrive Arianna Huffington panel during AWXI on October 1, 2014 in New York City. Monica Schipper–Getty Images

Denise Morrison is the President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.

I’m from a generation of women that found it exhilarating to shatter the glass ceiling. We viewed obstacles as opportunities and earned our seat at the leadership table

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Denise Morrison shares her thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Let’s Fix It” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about how they would fix what’s broken in this world. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Denise Morrison and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

I’m a woman and a CEO, which at present is a rare occurrence in Fortune 500 companies. If I had a magic wand (and they’re also hard to find), one of the first things I’d fix would be increasing diversity in the C-suite.

I feel strongly about the need for diversity, and with good reason. I’m from a generation of women that found it exhilarating to shatter the glass ceiling. We viewed obstacles as opportunities and earned our seat at the leadership table.

But we still have a long way to go. Glaring diversity and gender gaps in business remain. Consider this – women make up slightly more than half of the U.S. population but we account for only 5 percent of the CEOs in the Fortune 500. I was heartened to see that Safra Catz was appointed co-CEO of Oracle last month. Including her, I’m one of 25 women CEOs in the Fortune 500 and one of 53 in the Fortune 1000, a group that includes my sister Maggie Wilderotter, Chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications.

When Maggie and I speak together publicly at various business schools and events (it’s one way for two busy sisters to see each other on a regular basis), we talk about the scarcity of women in the C-suite and how we broke the gender barrier. Our success started with our parents.

When we were growing up in Elberon, New Jersey, our mother told us “ambition is a part of femininity” and our dad, a high-ranking executive at Bell and AT&T, inspired us to pursue business careers.

When Dad came home from work, he’d turn our family dinners into tutorials on business, money, sales and profit margins. He shared fascinating stories about his customers, marketing and my favorite topic when I was a kid – new product launches. Our father also took us to his office before the advent of “Take Your Child to Work Day.”

In an era when leadership positions in public companies were reserved for men, he said the business world would open up to women and he wanted us to be prepared.

Things have changed since then — slowly. I’m the first woman to lead Campbell in its 145-year history and one of four women serving on our Board of Directors this year. But when I attend meetings with other CEOs, there are still times when I’m one of the few women in the room.

But women aren’t the only people missing in the C-suite. Minorities are vastly underrepresented in the Fortune 500, with African-American, Asian and Latino CEOs each in the range of 1 to 2 percent.

I’m equally a proponent of increasing women and minorities on the boards of public companies. You may have seen the Catalyst report that women held about 17 percent of the board seats at Fortune 500 companies in 2013, and more than 70 percent of the Fortune 500 had no directors who are women of color.

I’d like to see that change. With three decades of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry, it’s clear to me that diversity will become a competitive advantage in a global economy for companies that are willing to open their minds and embrace change. The best companies will build culturally-diverse leadership teams and workforces with divergent backgrounds, perspectives and ideas.

That’s our goal at Campbell. We have more work ahead, but I believe diversity will help us forge stronger connections with the consumers we serve today and with the new generations of consumers we will serve tomorrow.

The path to diversity begins with supporting, mentoring, and sponsoring diverse women and men to become leaders and entrepreneurs. For instance, we’ve established distinct business resource affinity networks for our women, Hispanic, African American and Asian employees. Externally, we are partnering with or sponsoring non-profit organizations like the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, which I addressed last month in Philadelphia.

Diversity is not only the right thing to do — it’s smart business — so let’s embrace diversity and lead change within our companies, within the business community and within our society… starting at the top.

In this series of posts, Influencers explain what they wish they could fix — and how. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #FixIt in the body of your post).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 6

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Diversity in recruitment – not residency restrictions – is the best way to build a police force that reflects the community where it works.

By Batya Ungar-Sargon and Andrew Flowers in FiveThirtyEight

2. To save Libya, western powers need to abandon the ‘war on terror’ framework and convince factions there to negotiate.

By Mattia Toaldo in the European Council on Foreign Relations

3. Cricket protein requires 20% fewer resources than beef protein. Are bugs the next big thing?

By Katie Van Syckle in Bloomberg Businessweek

4. China’s fluid definition of terrorism – often changing at the convenience of the country’s leaders – keeps the nation from being an effective partner against ISIS.

By Richard Bernstein, Ely Ratner, Jeffrey Payne, James Palmer, and Fu Hualing in ChinaFile

5. Modern pro sports commissioners are CEOs, not stewards of a public good. Split the commissioner job in two.

By Will Leitch in New York Magazine

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Education

Most Financial Aid Should Go To First-Generation College Students

College lecture hall
Lisa Klumpp—Getty Images

Schools aren’t helping the students that really need it

Sometimes, vague can be misleading—and harmful. For years, colleges have identified disadvantaged students based primarily on “diversity” and “need.” But those categories are broad and unspecific, and can be gamed by sophisticated applicants and parents. The result? Schools aren’t helping the students that really need it. And higher education is now perpetuating – rather than alleviating – inequality. We can reverse this pattern by learning from our education history and shifting the focus of that aid effort to first-generation college students.

The key here is this: colleges need to get more specific about who they want to help, and why. Universities’ commitment to “diversity” is important, but it’s a poor substitute for a policy of equal access for the disadvantaged because “diverse” students and disadvantaged students are not necessarily one and the same. Several studies have shown that beneficiaries of diversity-based admissions policies typically hail from the most well-educated and economically successful segments of “diverse” communities. That’s why a diversity strategy will not help universities reclaim their mission of fostering socio-economic mobility.

Focusing on first-generation college students, on the other hand, just might. These are the students whose parents never attained a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college, and they’re a much better proxy group for those who are truly at a disadvantage in education. First-generation students typically attend secondary schools with fewer academic and financial resources. Yet we don’t have to look hard to find examples of students who demonstrate strong academic potential and have the discipline and perseverance to achieve long-term success. Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO; Kathleen McCartney, President of Smith College; Colin Powell, former Secretary of State; and Associate Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Supreme Court Justice – all first-generation college students – are just a few examples of tremendous academic potential of these students.

So, how do we unlock all that potential? It’s easy to propose an outreach strategy to first-generation students, but harder to implement one. The 250 or so oversubscribed institutions that admit a fraction of thousands of applicants too often crowd out the smart but poorer students. High-ability students born to poor, uneducated parents have the most to gain from higher education and the most to lose as a result of current inequities. We need to remove some of the roadblocks in the present system, especially at selective institutions of higher learning.

Here’s one such roadblock: Many universities—an overwhelming majority, in fact—practice “need-sensitive” admissions and don’t accept academically able but poor students, at least in part because they cannot pay. And then there’s merit-based financial aid, which also gives wealthier students an edge: schools often use it to climb the infamous U.S News & World Report rankings, as Stephen Burd reports in a recent paper. No one is arguing that merit doesn’t matter, but we need to scrutinize merit aid awards more closely. The metrics most colleges use to define “merit” favor affluent students, whose schools have the resources to support standardized testing prep, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes and exams. And it’s not just colleges that are contributing to this problem: Even lower-income students who receive the maximum Pell award may be left with a significant financial burden because the government isn’t holding colleges accountable for rising costs. Too many students face an untenable choice: financing their college educations with costly student loans or forego higher education altogether.

The cumulative impact of these roadblocks is clear. Students from affluent backgrounds graduate from college at six times the rate of children from low-income households. For lower-income students, merely going to college is an achievement. Fewer than 30 percent enroll in a four-year college. Of those poorer students who do matriculate, fewer than half graduate. The most damning statistics concern high-achieving students from low-income households. Even when students from low-income households outscore higher-income peers, they graduate from college at a lower rate. This data belies the notion, once extolled by universal schooling proponent, Horace Mann, that our institutions of higher education are “great equalizers.”

To make good on the past, we need to discuss how data sometimes drives – and misidentifies – our priorities. The Department of Education mandates that colleges report a massive amount of information about their students, including test scores, graduation rates, average net price paid per student, and demographic information such as race and sex. But it neglects to ask colleges about their students’ first-generation status—sending schools the message that this status isn’t a government priority (an impression compounded by the fact no comprehensive database indicates how many such students are admitted to institutions that receive federal funds).

Even if the government were asking for data about first-generation status, universities aren’t likely to happily fork it over. In response to inquiries I made in connection with a forthcoming research paper on first-generation students’ access to higher education, administrators at numerous selective universities claimed to have no idea whether their students hail from Ph.Ds. or from high school drop outs. The data that I did manage to collect indicates that first-generation students constitute a fraction of the student bodies at selective colleges and universities. In 2011, for instance, only five percent of matriculating freshmen at the University of Michigan, and in 2013 just nine percent of matriculating freshman at the University of Virginia—both taxpayer-supported universities that enroll thousands of students—were first-generation college students.

The best way to address the social and economic inequality embedded in higher education policy is to tackle it at its roots. Admissions officials can start by practicing need-blind admissions, asking students whether their parents graduated from a four-year college, and consciously seeking to admit academically competitive first-generation students during the admissions process. Colleges should provide adequate financial support for low-income first-generation college students and the federal government must replace costly loans with grants for a greater number of needy students. The government can also look to its past for precedent to craft a legislative solution. Both the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (“GI Bill”) and 1965 Higher Education Act (part of The Great Society) offer models for providing educational benefits and access to those who are most in need.

The inclusion of greater numbers of students from the bottom rungs of society in higher education need not be a zero sum game. This isn’t about displacing wealthier students. It’s about enriching the student body, and making college better for everyone with the potential to attend.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin is the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law and a Professor of History at Harvard University, where she is the co-director of the Program in Law and History. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Equal Opportunity Is Over. It’s Time for ‘Racial Realism’

Getty Images

A shift in demographics means that, increasingly, many employers are treating race as a qualification

Californians, like other Americans, like to think that race should never be a qualification for a job, that everyone deserves an equal opportunity and a fair shake. This principle undergirds our Civil Rights Act, which turns 50 this month. And yet increasingly, many employers are treating race as a qualification, especially for people of color. Just look at the Los Angeles Lakers’ acquisition of Jeremy Lin. “We think Jeremy will be warmly embraced by our fans and our community,” said General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Putting Lin on the court is a smart economic move in the country’s largest Asian-American market.

The prevalence of this kind of hiring—particularly in California, America’s most populous and most diverse state—suggests that the Civil Rights Act needs to be updated. California in 2014 certainly looks nothing like Alabama and Mississippi of 1964, which were Congress’s focus when it passed that year’s Civil Rights Act. The main question then was how to provide equal opportunity for African-Americans. The answer at that time was Title VII of the act, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment, and later court decisions allowing for affirmative action.

Twenty-first-century employers have come to value racial differences in ways that were unheard of in 1964, and do not fit with traditional conceptions of affirmative action. Organizations of all kinds today hire and place workers using a practice I have called “racial realism”: seeing color as a real and significant part of workers’ identities, a qualification that is good for business.

As with the Lakers and Lin, employers use racial realism to make customers of different backgrounds feel comfortable. As San Francisco-based Wells Fargo explains on its website: “To know our customers and serve them well, the diversity of team members throughout our ranks should reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.”

Government employers, including police departments and school districts, have also invoked racial realism, seeking to mirror the populations they serve to deliver more effective services. For example, California’s Education Code declares the importance of hiring racially diverse teachers so that “the minority student [has] available to him or her the positive image provided by minority classified and certificated employees.”

In low-skilled jobs, racial realism is often linked to perceived variations in abilities, rather than customer reactions. One study of Los Angeles employers found a common pattern of preference for Latinos due to their perceived diligence.

While racial realism lacks the animus that characterized the racism of the Deep South 50 years ago, it is still problematic. The Civil Rights Act provides no authorization for race to be a job qualification. And the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has denied the legality of motivations like Wells Fargo’s. If employers in Alabama could claim they preferred white workers because their customers preferred white workers, the cause of equal opportunity would never have gotten off the ground. Courts have ruled that firms should have their workforces mirror their job applicant pools, not their customer bases. And California’s rationale for teacher diversity would seem to have been precluded by a 1986 Supreme Court decision, which explicitly stated that hiring teachers to be racial role models was impermissible.

Moreover, the employer preference for Latino workers, often immigrants, is often propelled by stereotypes, and often at the expense of other workers stereotyped differently, especially African-Americans. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has initiated action against employers who use this strategy, grouping the cases under a heading no one would have considered in 1964: “Hispanic Preference.”

For high-skilled nonwhite workers, racial realism can be a double-edged sword. They may have ready access to jobs—then find themselves pigeonholed in positions where they deal with same-race clients or citizens.

Why the shift from equal opportunity to racial realism? Demographics. American birthrates declined as the country became more educated, creating a great demand for low-skilled immigrant labor. Employer demand for labor brought immigrant workers here, but now immigrants themselves, and their descendants, are shaping employment patterns as consumers. Employers are feeling pressure to balance the rights of their workers and the interests of customers and citizens, including those of color, who rightfully expect the best service from businesses and especially from government.

The Civil Rights Act, as written, puts employers and employees alike in a bind. It is time to revisit the law, and make adaptations that fit our new demography—and the law’s original goal of equal opportunity for America’s most disadvantaged.

John D. Skrentny—co-director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego—is author of After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace (Princeton University Press).

TIME Workplace & Careers

Yes, There Is Diversity in Silicon Valley — if You Know Where to Look

Google Celebrates 15th Anniversary As Company Reaches $290 Billion Market Value
Pedestrians walk past Google Inc. signage displayed in front of the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. David Paul Morris—Bloomberg / Getty Images

Study finds many black and Latino workers toil in the tech scene's "invisible" workforce of cooks, cleaners and guards

A new report on the diversity of Silicon Valley’s workforce has found a preponderance of black and Latino workers relegated to the bottom rungs of the pay ladder.

Working Partnerships USA released a report on Tuesday that drew attention to an “invisible” legion of contracted workers who cook, clean and guard corporate campuses throughout the Valley.

While black and Latino workers comprise less than 5% of the workforce at prominent companies such as Twitter, Facebook, eBay and Google, their representation balloons to 41% among security guards and 75% among groundskeepers, according to employment data released by the companies and Santa Clara county.

Members of this contracted workforce make an average hourly wage of $11 to $14 an hour, or less than a fifth of the average software developer, the study found.

“These ‘invisible’ workers do not share in the success of the industry which they daily labor to keep running,” the study’s authors wrote. “As contracted workers, their employer of record is not Google or Apple, but a middleman, making them ineligible for most of the benefits and amenities offered on the campuses where they work.”

A growing number of tech companies have voluntarily released employment statistics as part of an effort to address gaps in diversity. “As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a statement accompanying Apple’s release. ‘We’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them.”

TIME Congress

Two Charts That Show How Women Leaders Trail Men At Ballot Box

Tulsi Gabbard
Hawaii House candidate Tulsi Gabbard is applauded by women House members at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Lynne Sladky—AP

Women make up a majority of voters in national elections, but far from a majority of those elected to serve

Many people believe that we live in a new era in which glass ceilings are being broken and in which women are gaining more say and power. But are women getting a large enough say in our country’s political decisions?

Research engine FindTheBest compiled data on all 538 current members of Congress and calculated the percentage of women serving in Congress by state.

The only state with complete female representation is New Hampshire, with all four delegates (two in the House and two in the Senate). Hawaii comes in second with 75% women (out of four) and then Maine, where the congressional representatives are half women and half men. The following 47 states all have less than 50% women representing their citizens in Congress.

Of the 16 states that have no women serving in Congress, Georgia has the most Congressional seats at 16, followed by Virginia and New Jersey, which both have 13.

Among the bigger states with most Congressional seats, Texas has three female delegates (7%) and 35 male (92%)—a much wider gap than California’s 20 women (36%) and 35 men (63%).

FindTheBest also collected data on all current members of state legislatures.

Although both genders are at least represented in all 50 states, not a single state has a legislature that is at least half female. Colorado has the highest percentage of women serving the state, comprising 41 percent. Vermont takes the second highest spot, with a legislative body is that 40% female and 59% male, and Arizona, which is 35% female and 64% male.

Among the states with the lowest percentage of women serving the state legislature is Louisiana (11% female and 88% male) and South Carolina (12% female and 87% male).

TIME Companies

Apple Is Mostly White and Male, According to Its First Diversity Report

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone during an Apple product announcement at the Apple campus on September 10, 2013 in Cupertino, California.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone during an Apple product announcement at the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., on Sept. 10, 2013 Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Apple is the latest major tech company to reveal its workplace diversity numbers

Apple, the latest tech company to reveal its workforce demographics, said Tuesday that its U.S. staff is 55% white, 15% Asian, 11% Hispanic and 7% black. Two percent of workers are multiracial, and another 9% did not declare their race.

In regards to gender, Apple’s global workforce is 70% male and 30% female. Within tech-related jobs specifically, the disparity is 80% male and 20% female.

Apple’s employee-demographic trends are similar to those of other major tech companies, several of whom, like Google, Facebook and Twitter, have also recently released diversity reports. Like the other firms, Apple included in its report a public commitment to increase the diversity of its workforce.

“As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” Apple head Tim Cook said in a letter accompanying the figures. “We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.”

In addition to race and gender, Cook said that Apple celebrates other types of diversity, like people with disabilities as well as varying sexual orientations.

TIME Tech

eBay’s Surprising Diversity Figures

The eBay headquarters seen in San Jose, Calif., in 2011.
The eBay headquarters seen in San Jose, Calif., in 2011 David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The online-auction site employs more women than its Silicon Valley peers. But men still dominate in technical and leadership positions

The tech industry is notoriously dominated by white and Asian men. But eBay’s first diversity report shows that it employs more women, blacks and Hispanics than its peers.

Forty-two percent of eBay’s staff of 33,000 workers is female, beating out LinkedIn’s 39%, Yahoo’s 37%, Facebook’s 31%, Twitter’s 30% and Google’s 30%.

eBay also reported that 7% of its U.S. employees are black and 5% are Hispanic.

But even though eBay as a whole may be more diverse than many other tech companies — it also had a female CEO, Meg Whitman, from 1998 through 2008 — there is still a huge gender gap in terms of tech jobs and leadership roles: only 24% of eBay’s tech workers are women.

And even though eBay says it has doubled the number of women promoted to leadership positions in the past three years, just 28% of those in leadership at eBay are women. (For comparison, 17% of Google’s engineers are women, and 21% of leaders are women.)

The same holds true for race. Of those working tech jobs, only 2% are black, 2% are Hispanic and 1% are multiracial. Meanwhile, 40% of those holding tech jobs are white, and 55% are Asian.

Similarly, only 5% of those in leadership positions are black, Hispanic or multiracial. A whopping 72% of the company’s leaders are white, and only 23% are Asian.

TIME Diversity

90% of Twitter’s Tech Employees are Male

Twitter released its long-awaited diversity report on Wednesday, and the skewed demographics are no surprise

A lack of employee diversity is a trending topic in Silicon Valley, and the data on Twitter’s racial and gender diversity, released Wednesday, further confirms what’s already become clear: male, white and Asian workers occupy the vast majority of tech jobs and leadership roles.

Ninety percent of Twitter’s global tech employees are male, while non-tech jobs are equally split by gender, according to data posted on Twitter’s blog by Janet Van Huysse, Vice President of Diversity of Inclusion. Additionally, men occupy 79% of leadership positions and comprise 70% of the total workforce. Here’s the breakdown:

 Employee Gender Diversity
Twitter

When it comes to racial diversity, 88% of all Twitter employees and 92% of tech employees are either white or Asian (mostly white). And unlike gender diversity, Twitter’s non-tech roles similarly lack racial diversity: 83% are white or Asian (mostly white). In leadership, non-Asian minorities hold only 4% of leadership roles. Here are the full details:

 Employee Ethnic Diversity
Twitter

Twitter’s statistics very much align with those released by other tech giants. In May, Google’s diversity report, the first of its kind from a major tech firm, spearheaded the diversity transparency movement that’s now gained traction across the U.S. Google reported that men were vastly overrepresented in tech jobs, while non-tech jobs had a roughly even gender split. Facebook’s report, LinkedIn’s report and Yahoo’s report also found similar results. But compared to all these companies, Twitter posts the highest proportion of male tech employees (90%) compared to Facebook (85%), Yahoo (85%), Google (83%) and LinkedIn (83%).

“We are keenly aware that Twitter is part of an industry that is marked by dramatic imbalances in diversity—and we are no exception,” writes Huysse, noting that Twitter has sponsored and partnered with several groups, like Girls Who Code and Girl Geek Dinners, that encourage women and underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in tech.

Twitter’s diversity report arrives roughly a month after the similar reports were made public, a delay that’s caused civil rights groups, including one led by Jesse Jackson, to petition Twitter to release its own statistics. Twitter and other companies are required to file the EEO-1 report to the federal government—LinkedIn went a step ahead and published its EEO-1—but there’s no such requirement that diversity data is released to the public. And though it may not a federal requirement, it certainly seems to be a social one, as companies like Twitter realize the value of a diverse workforce.

“By becoming more transparent with our employee data, open in dialogue throughout the company and rigorous in our recruiting, hiring and promotion practices, we are making diversity an important business issue for ourselves,” the blog states.

TIME Tech Policy

Why Twitter and the Rest of Silicon Valley Should Disclose Their Diversity Data

Twitter's IPO Spurs Horse Race Among Exchanges Seeking Listing
The Twitter Inc. logo is displayed on a mobile device for a photograph in New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. Twitter Inc., which announced plans last week for an initial public offering, is still deciding whether to list on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq Stock Market, setting off a horse race for the high-profile deal. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg/Getty Images

Twitter has become the largest media platform for minority voices on the planet. Everything from the Trayvon Martin case to the BET Awards has become the equivalent of a front-page headline on the site thanks to the social network’s trending topics, which aggregate the most popular conversations and present them to all Twitter users. Blacks over-index heavily on the site, with 29 percent of black Internet users in the U.S. reporting that they actively use Twitter in a recent Pew Research Center survey, compared to 16 percent of whites and Hispanics. In the same way Twitter owes much of its success to the early adopters who gave the site structure and the celebrities who gave it clout, it can also thank black people for helping it reach critical mass and climb to 255 million monthly active users.

So it’s disappointing that the company is so far resisting a positive trend in Silicon Valley, the disclosure of employee data related to race and gender. Chances are, Twitter’s employee roster looks a lot like its Bay Area competitors—overwhelmingly male and white. That’s not a dirty little secret in the Valley; it’s been the modus operandi for decades. The common race and gender tropes of tech startups are so ingrained that we now have an HBO sitcom to mock how far removed the tech scene is from the way the rest of the world lives.

Most tech firms have spent years resisting past entreaties to cough up demographic data. But the stonewalling ended in May, when Google published a diversity report revealing that the company is about 70 percent male, 61 percent white and 30 percent Asian. That set off a domino effect that led Yahoo, LinkedIn, Facebook and others to publish similar data. But huge consumer tech companies like Apple, Twitter and Amazon have so kept their own figures to themselves (Apple CEO Tim Cook has said the company will release its data “at some point“). Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson is planning an online petition and a social media campaign Friday to convince Twitter in particular to disclose its employee data. None of the companies mentioned responded to multiple emails from TIME asking whether they planned to release diversity reports in the future.

All of these companies, of course, are free to hire whoever they please. They work in a field so hyper-competitive that Google was once willing to give employees offered jobs by Facebook counteroffers within an hour. But anyone who’s ever held a professional job knows who you know matters as much as what you know, and many people in our so-called melting pot continue to maintain friendships exclusively within their own race. Minorities are at a natural disadvantage trying to crack into a world where no one looks like them.

Meanwhile, software development is one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the U.S., expected to grow by 23% from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Historically underrepresented minorities are showing a greater interest in the field—20 percent of the students who graduated with a degree in computer and information sciences in 2012 were black or Hispanic, up from 16 percent a decade prior (at Google, by comparison, 5 percent of workers are black or Hispanic and 4 percent are multiracial). Making a commitment to diversity now means that a wider number of people will have access to these well-paying jobs in the future, a result that will help the tech sector remain prosperous and in-tune with cultural shifts as whites continue to decline as a percentage of the overall U.S. population.

Perhaps the companies that have yet to speak up on diversity fear the negative headlines that will come from admitting that their organizations are mostly comprised of white males. But an annual diversity report is a flag in the sand that indicates inclusiveness is important to a company, important enough to stake its reputation on. Diversity in the workforce has proven benefits for business, and it’s a savvy long-term marketing tool to help recruit employees who value diversity in their work life. The public pressure that naturally stems from such transparency will also encourage tech firms to partner with organizations already looking to boost involvement by women and minorities in computer science, such as Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code and the national societies for black and Hispanic engineers.

Obviously this is not just an issue that affects Silicon Valley. My own industry has seen a declining percentage of minorities working in newsrooms, and men still outnumber women in journalism jobs nearly two-to-one. We could use some more transparency on these issues as well. All U.S. companies with more than 100 employees are required to send detailed demographic data to a federal agency called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission each year, so there’s no reason they can’t share it publicly. The European Union passed a law in April requiring firms with more than 500 employees to publicly release data related to workforce diversity, environmental sustainability and human rights.

It shouldn’t take a government mandate to introduce transparency, though. Right now the tech giants are uniquely positioned among American businesses to take a leadership role on the issue of diversity in the workplace. Our country’s two most valuable companies, Apple and Google, reside nine miles from each other in Silicon Valley. They and their smaller competitors are constantly crowing about how their disruptive products and progressive worldviews are changing the world for the better. Well, here’s a dead-simple way to help fix the world: take that race and gender data you’re already collecting and let everyone else see it. Public scrutiny of the information will inevitably beget positive change.

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