On May 21 2021, an item on right-wing disinformation purveyor Dan Bongino’s blog (“Study: Tech Companies That Made Black Lives Matter Pledges Have 20% Fewer Black Employees”) appeared on Trendolizer.com’s list of the day’s most popular links, and it claimed:
According to a new study of tech companies that made pledges to support the black lives matter movement, those companies actually employed fewer black employees on average than companies that didn’t take any public stance. That comes despite the supporting companies making a combined $4.6 billion in financial commitments to the cause.
Woke capitalism is on the rise, and it won’t go away until everyone wakes up to the blatantly obvious fact that it’s just a marketing campaign.
A new study conducted by a racial justice group reveals that some of the “wokest” companies that have spent months virtue-signaling in support of minorities and movements like “Black Lives Matter” actually have some of the lowest numbers of black employees themselves, proving that “woke” gets awfully sleepy when it comes to practicing what they preach.
Both mrctv.org and Bongino.com credited Bloomberg.com as its source, the latter linking to a Yahoo News article published on May 17 2021, and the former linking directly to an identical Bloomberg piece.
A new study of diversity in the technology industry found companies that made statements of solidarity had 20% fewer Black employees on average than those that didn’t. The finding highlights a gap between what companies say about social issues and what they do in their own workplaces, said Stephanie Lampkin, the founder and chief executive officer of Blendoor, which conducted the study set to be published Monday [May 17 2021].
Blendoor, a startup that helps companies recruit a diverse group of candidates, crunched publicly available data on 240 of the most prominent tech companies. Despite the shortcomings of many companies that put out Black Lives Matter statements, the pledges could have a serious impact. Their financial commitments surpassed $4.6 billion, more than double the amount of pledges made in the previous six years combined, according to the report.
Initial searching led to what appeared to be several articles from a variety of news sites reporting on the Blendoor Black Lives Matter study. But every item we found was a syndication of the Bloomberg article, aside from the two linked blog posts aggregating its claims.
Bloomberg reported the Blendoor “study” was “set to be published” on May 17 2021, the day the article was published, but it didn’t link to the published report it referenced. Neither did Bloomberg clarify whether its writers read the report themselves, or took Blendoor’s claims at face value.
We did a date-restricted search for “Blendoor Black Lives Matter” (omitting the word “study,”) locating a total of six results among 45 returned links (the balance of which were unrelated). One variation credited its source as Crain’s New York, but Crain’s New York also simply republished the Bloomberg piece with no additional reporting.
Oddly, none of the dozens of links in the search directed to Blendoor’s website. Even more curiously Blendoor’s Twitter timeline didn’t make any obvious reference to the finding highlighted in the Bloomberg article.
Blendoor’s website (blendoor.com) didn’t appear to mention the Blendoor Black Lives Matter study, but extremely small text in the footer read “State of Diversity,” with no additional information, listed before “Privacy” and “Terms of Service.”
Visiting the “State of Diversity” link led to a page (“Resources“), which read:
Curated content to improve your DEI knowledge and practice
State of Diversity in Tech
The call for corporate social accountability is louder than ever. Blendoor’s first inaugural State of Divesity in Tech report aims to answer this call. Powered by BlendScore™, our DEI data and analytics platform enables automated DEI governance, due diligence, and communications at scale.
Blendoor’s team of data analysts combed through proxy statements, diversity reports, and public data sets to collect DEI-related data on 240 of the largest and most notable tech companies.
A button labeled “View Report” appeared underneath that text. It led to an analysis titled “State of [Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion] DEI in Tech in 2021” [PDF], and its subheading indicated 240 tech companies were analyzed for the report.
An introduction stated:
Of the 240 tech companeis [sic] analyzed for this report, 159 companies made 535 DEI pledges in 2020 worth a total cash value of $4.56B. In 2014, several companies made similar pledges and publicly disclosed the gender and racial/ethnic breakdown of their workforces. After seven years and billions of dollars invested, there has been very little progress overall. Based on our analysis, women employees increased by 2.14% points, Asian employees increased by 8.2% points, while Hispanic and Black employee representation increased by a measely [sic] 0.57% and 0.36% points respectively.*
The call for corporate social accountability is louder than ever. Blendoor’s first inaugural State of Divesity [sic] in Tech report aims to answer this call. Powered by BlendScore™, our DEI data and analytics platform enables automated DEI governance, due diligence, and communications at scale. As the de facto standard for DEI performance, Blendoor gives key stakeholders the benchmarks necessary to align social values and investments.
* Based on the 18 BlendScore™ 240 tech companies that published diversity metrics in 2014: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google, Apple, Cisco, eBay, HP, Indiegogo, Nvidia, Dell, Intel, Groupon, Amazon, Salesforce, Pandora, Microsoft
Blendoor referenced Black Lives Matter on page four of the document, in a section labeled “Quick Take”:
Black Lives Matter
A little less than half (110) of the BlendScore™ 240 tech companies analyzed made a #BLM pledge or statement, but only 70% (77) of those companies publicly disclose the percentage of Black employees in their workforce. Further, companies that made a #BLM pledge have 20% fewer Black employees on average than companies that did not make a #BLM pledge.
That passage contained the sole mention of “Black Lives Matter” across Blendoor’s report, as well as the only three mentions of “BLM.” It outlined parameters for the statement: that fewer than half of the companies analyzed (110 of 240, or 45 percent) had made a “Black Lives Matter pledge,” that of that 45 percent, only 70 percent (or 77 total) publicly disclosed the percentage of Black employees at their companies, and that only tech companies were analyzed.
A section titled “Methodology” explained:
BlendScore™ is a dynamic scoring system that rates corporate equity, diversity & inclusion for organizations based on 4 focus areas: (1) Leadership, (2) Retention, (3) Recruiting, and (4) Impact. What differentiates BlendScore from similar indices is it periodically pulls from publicly available, open-source data providing the most accurate and up-to-date information. Unlike other diversity rankings, BlendScore™ is an unsolicited rating.
Blendoor also highlighted the 20 percent statistic to Bloomberg, but that 20 percent statistic applied to 77 out of 240 tech-only companies analyzed. In other words, out of the 240 companies analyzed and based on Blendoor’s data, only 32 percent were counted in the analysis. The balance of companies, 68 percent of them, either did not make pledges or did not publicly disclose their workplace diversity data.
Bloomberg’s May 17 2021 article “Tech Companies That Made #BlackLivesMatter Pledges Have Fewer Black Employees” was aggregated far and wide, forming the basis of partisan critiques of “woke capitalism.” Blendoor’s Black Lives Matter pledge report, suspiciously hard to find and never linked in the widely-aggregated Bloomberg piece, made a far more nuanced claim with far less attention-grabbing proportions. Headlines shouted that companies who publicly pledged support for Black Lives Matter had 20 percent fewer employees than those who didn’t, which was not what the Blendoor report actually said. However, that nuance got lost as it was aggregated into disinformation networks.