Tag Archives: Google

Balancing the Tech Workforce in Chicago

As more and more investors ask companies to share the information reported to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the realities of workforce representation of minorities and women are gaining new attention. For many firms and businesses, including those in Chicago, increasing participation by Black and Latino workers in tech jobs is a top priority.

Diversity in Chicago Tech Jobs

Google, for example, has 1,200 workers in its Chicago offices; African Americans make up 2.2 percent of technical jobs. Latinos make up only 4.8 percent of these jobs in the tech-giants national employment base.

The executives at Chicago firms say they have all seen the benefits of diversity in their staffing schemes. A healthy sharing of opinions, constructive debates, and meaningful exchange of best practices are only some of the positives that come along with expanding the hiring base. Unfortunately, not all Chicagoans are optimistic. Carlton Gates, an African American recruiter for Yum! Brands based in Chicago, and a former employee of Oracle and Google, says the tech-verse has been “talking about diversity for 20 years, and not a single thing has changed.” According to Gates, there is a tribal vibe on engineering teams, where little to no cultural or ethnic crossover happens.

With all this in mind, local companies with open tech vacancies are looking for new resources and pipelines to identify talent. They are also taking measures to modify the interview processes to abate bias and address issues that might be unique to minority populations.

Diversity in Chicago Tech Jobs

One Company’s Layoffs Is Another Company’s Hires

Chicago skyline seen from Cortland Street Drawbridge. Photo courtesy of John G. Suhayda.

Computer hardware engineers who got the axe last September during a massive downsizing at Motorola’s Chicago headquarters soon found that they were in demand by some of the country’s most successful high tech companies.

It was only a matter of weeks before these newly unemployed engineers were fielding job offers from company’s like Google, Facebook and Apple, who held recruiting events. Amazon also made offers to several of the engineers.

What were these computer-high tech giants hoping for? Mostly to bring these highly skilled workers back home to Silicon Valley. In the case of Google, however, their goal was a bit different, and unique. The search engine giant used the Motorola layoffs to recruit hardware engineers, for the first time, to work in their Chicago office. Until this time Google’s only Chicago hires had been for jobs in software development.

Some of the former Motorola engineers who were at the meeting said that Google had organized a gathering within two weeks of being fired. There were at least 200 hardware engineers in attendance, all of which had been fired by Motorola. During an information session the Google reps demonstrated some of its new hardware products and then discussed bringing jobs in computer hardware development to their Chicago office for the first time.

Google’s New Office in Chicago Hosting 2016 Venture Summit

The Chicago River is the south border of the Near North Side and Streeterville and the north border of the New Eastside (viewed from Lake Shore Drive. Photo by lickr user mindfrieze
The Chicago River is the south border of the Near North Side and Streeterville and the north border of the New Eastside (viewed from Lake Shore Drive. Photo by flickr user mindfrieze

The second annual Chicago Venture Summit, sponsored by World Business Chicago will be held on April 20-21, 2016 at Google’s newly opened Chicago branch office. The summit will host startups, venture capital firms and will focus on trends in innovation. Fortune 500 companies will also be there to provide the oil to lubricate the machine of networking. A special emphasis will be placed on businesswomen in Chicago.

“Chicago’s tech community is thriving,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We’ve seen a record high amount of venture capital invested in Chicago startups in 2014, and the second highest number of companies included on Inc. 5000’s latest list of fastest growing companies. The Chicago Venture Summit builds on this environment, allowing our companies to continue to grow and create jobs throughout Chicago.”

ChicagoNEXT, the WBC’s council of technology leaders, is organizing the event. The council is committed to fostering growth and opportunity in technology, science and innovation. They support entrepreneurship which leads to new growth.

“We’re proud to bring the strongest local, regional and national venture companies to the city to converge with our area’s brightest entrepreneurs and industry leaders,” said ChicagoNEXT Chairman Mark Tebbe. “The Chicago Venture Summit provides one of the most unique networking opportunities and creates tangible investment in our city and its companies.”