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Lyft's new diversity report shows progress, setbacks

The ride-hailing company ups its number of black and Latino employees, but its female ranks decline.

Lyft has more black and Latino employees than it did last year.

Lyft

Lyft has been aiming to diversify its workplace over the past few years, and a report released Friday shows it's made strides in recruiting more employees of color. But with female staff, not so much.

The diversity report, compiled and released by the ride-hailing company, shows Lyft now employs 4 percent more African-Americans and 2 percent more Latinos as compared with last year. As for women, it dropped 2 percent in its overall numbers.

"There's some cause for celebration and some opportunity to really retrench," Lyft Vice President of Talent and Inclusion Nilka Thomas said in an interview. "We're not done by any means."

Tech companies have been under scrutiny for the past several years for not employing enough people of color and women. Though Lyft's staff skews male (60 percent) and white (52 percent), that's actually a little bit better than other Silicon Valley companies. Apple, for instance, is 68 percent male and 54 percent white. Google is 69 percent male and 53 percent white.

This is Lyft's second-ever diversity report. Since its last report, in June 2017, the company has focused on increasing its numbers, Thomas said. It instituted regular reporting with its senior leadership and pledged not to make any new hires unless candidates from diverse backgrounds were included in the process. The company also announced in March that it was committing to a third-party audit of its employees to ensure they had equal pay, regardless of gender and race.

"You can move the needle when you're intentional and deliberate," Thomas said. "Lyft is an organization that's ripe for these challenges."

Overall, Lyft's gender diversity isn't too bad, but when you look at leadership and tech roles, the numbers start to drop. This year, Lyft reported that 40 percent of its employees identify as women, but that number lowers to 32 percent in leadership roles (last year this number was 36 percent) and only 21 percent in tech. It did see a 3 percent increase for women in tech roles this year.

Even though Lyft has upped its numbers in the ethnicity department, it's still overwhelmingly white and Asian. Overall, the ride-hailing company reported that 52 percent of its employees are white, 22 percent Asian, 10 percent black and 9 percent Latino. Looking at leadership and tech roles, those numbers for African-Americans and Latinos get slim.

For the year to come, Thomas said she wants to focus on increasing female and minority representation in leadership roles.

"Diverse leaders hire diverse teams," she said. "Where I want us to get really exaggerated in our work is around leadership."

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