Last month, as I've mentioned in a previous column, this newspaper sent a letter to major Silicon Valley firms asking for information about their companies' work force demographics.
And in that previous column, I said I'd update you on how those companies have responded, so here's my progress report. The good news: More companies are disclosing their data, which will make it easier to start discussions about how to solve the problem of the lack of diversity in the tech industry.
The bad news: Some companies still are resisting. This newspaper will keep the pressure on, and so should you.
The industry "holds itself up as an example for society," said John Sims, a professor at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. "That makes it particularly important for the tech industry to be transparent, and subject to evaluation. The core data about the individuals who make up this vital industry should be public."
We made our request as a batch of tech stars such as Google and Yahoo reversed course and released employee data after years of resisting.
While that wave of self-disclosure was welcome, it was not enough.
One problem: Many other large Silicon Valley employers have stayed mum on the issue, so it seemed worthwhile to ask them for the data.
Also, many firms report on work force demographics in different ways, making it hard to compare. Luckily, they also file a form called an EEO-1, an annual report about the ethnicity, race and gender of a firm's U.S. work force, to the federal government. They are not required to release it. Some do, some don't.
Finally, most companies do not offer historical data, so it's hard to know if their work forces are becoming more or less diverse.
Of course, we aren't the only ones asking. Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has led the push for firms to disclose data, said he will ask companies to commit to disclosing their EEO-1 annually.
"It took some effort to get them to begin opening up the files," he said. "Now the wall has come down. We are going to change the face of technology."
Here is what companies have done so far:
One company -- Intel -- gave us exactly what we requested, their most recent and their 2004 workplace demographics report to the U.S. government.
Seven companies -- Synnex, VMWare, NetApp, Juniper Networks, Maxim Integrated Products, Tesla and Gilead Sciences -- declined to give any information.
"We want to stay focused on all the hiring we are doing across the Bay Area," said Simon Sproule, a Tesla spokesman. "We will revisit this next year."
Eight firms did not respond at all.
Some of the nearly three dozen companies we contacted, including Apple, Twitter, Symantec and Salesforce.com, publicly released some demographic information but did not provide their reports to the government, as we had requested.
Google, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, Nvidia and SanDisk released their most recent EEO-1, but not the older report, although Facebook is too new to have filed a 2004 EEO-1.
Cisco and Adobe have long made public annual reports chock-full of work force demographics, but they have not disclosed their EEO-1s.
Some of the companies have asked why we zeroed in on this government report. The EEO-1 has rigid categories for workers that, they say, don't reflect the kinds of roles employees have at tech firms.
But even limited, the government report is a standard format. It makes it easier to compare apples to apples. It's given to the government, meaning it has more gravitas than a firm's "corporate responsibility" publication, where the company can choose which information to highlight. And by asking for their past EEO-1, we hope to gain insight into how workplaces are changing.
"It's great all these companies are publishing this data," said Telle Whitney, the chief executive and president of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. "What really matters is the trend over time and one way to capture it is to see how (the data) changed over the years."
In coming months, we expect to hear from more Silicon Valley employers as we keep the spotlight on the issue.
In our letter, we said we agreed with Google's Laszlo Bock when he said, "It's hard to address these kinds of challenges if you're not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts."