Why Silicon Valley’s Diversity Matters to All of US

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[Commentary] In many respects, Silicon Valley is the economic envy of the US. The area south of the San Francisco Bay led the nation in job growth in 2011 and in 2013, job growth in the South Bay and San Francisco metro areas was more than twice as fast as the countrywide rate. The technology sector drives this growth.

"The Bay Area, and particularly, the South Bay and San Francisco, are the epicenter for social media, mobile and Internet commerce," said Michael Bernick, a research fellow with the Milken Institute and a former California Employment Development Department director. "These strengths are why the Bay Area outpaces the state and the nation."

Demand is so strong for technology skills that Bay Area unemployment for people in the tech sector ranges from 1 percent to 3 percent.

But how inclusive are the opportunities that Silicon Valley offers? We have recently seen evidence that it is not for some groups. Although tech is a key driver of the economy and makes products that many Americans use every day, it does not come close to reflecting the demographics of the country -- in terms of sex, age or race. In the United States work force over all, 80 percent of employees are white, 12 percent are black and 5 percent are Asian. Forty-seven percent of the total work force in the United States are women and 20 percent of software developers are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why is a diverse work force so important? The data -- which in Silicon Valley usually reigns supreme -- shows that diversity of groups benefits research, development, innovation and profit.

Why Silicon Valley’s Diversity Matters to All of US