Lyft published its first diversity report today, revealing numbers that were slightly better than its rival Uber and the tech industry as a whole. The numbers come as Silicon Valley is facing criticism and numerous lawsuits concerning rampant sexual harassment and an overall lack of gender and ethnic diversity. But does it support the recent claim by Lyft’s president that the app company is “woke?”
Not exactly. Lyft published its report as part of an Obama-era White House pledge signed by 30 tech companies in June 2016 to release annual diversity reports. Uber released its diversity report in March under a cloud of allegations concerning its toxic workplace. Today, Lyft’s numbers show a company that is barely more balanced in terms of gender and racial diversity.
In terms of gender identity, 42 percent of Lyft’s workforce identifies as female, including 36 percent of its leadership team. But those numbers drop precipitously when you look at Lyft’s technical staff: only 18 percent of Lyft’s engineering division identifies as female, including 13 percent of its technical executives.
Overall, 63 percent of Lyft’s staff is white, 19 percent is Asian, 7 percent is Latinx, and 6 percent is black. In the engineering field, 51 percent is white, 38 percent is Asian, 4 percent is Latinx, and 2 percent is black. Lyft’s top executives are overwhelming white: 70 percent, versus 18 percent that is Asian, 5 percent that is Latinx, and 1 percent that is black. Lyft’s engineering leadership is mostly white and Asian: 59 percent and 34 percent, respectively. None of its head engineers are Latinx or black.
Still, Lyft is doing better on gender diversity than its crosstown rival Uber. Only 36 percent of Uber’s workforce identifies as female, compared to Lyft’s 42 percent. But both companies are pretty much overwhelmingly white and Asian. Black and Hispanic employees only make up 13 percent of Lyft’s staff, compared to Uber’s 15 percent. Of course, Lyft’s workforce is a fraction of Uber’s: 1,600 employees, compared to Uber’s 12,000. (Uber is in over 60 countries worldwide, while Lyft only operates in the US.)
In a blog post, Lyft admits that it “has a lot of work to do,” noting that its newly hired head of diversity Tariq Meyers was working with strategy firm Paradigm “to identify opportunities for positive change.” The company says it’s “investing more in programs,” without specifying exactly which programs and how much it plans to spend.
“Releasing our data will hold us accountable, but it’s the actions we take that will make a difference to the people who come to work every day at Lyft,” the company says. “Our diversity data exposes gaps in important areas. So we’re doing something about it.”
Notably, Lyft’s numbers do not include its drivers, who — along with Uber drivers — have been accused of discriminating against female and black customers.