Tesla’s New DEI Impact Report Includes A Roadmap To Better Represent Underrepresented Communities

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Over the weekend, Tesla released its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Impact Report for 2020, and many have taken notice that Tesla isn’t where it wants to be in terms of having a diverse workforce, Tesla included. Tesla is working on that. It is putting its focus on the inclusion of more minorities in its workforce while lifting up its employees.

“As we work to achieve our mission we reaffirm our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). We are proud to employ people of all backgrounds who possess the talent, energy, and focus to accelerate our vision forward. Each employee is encouraged to bring their whole self to work, knowing that Tesla values individuality as much as we value collaboration,” Tesla stated in its report, while also pointing out that it focuses “relentlessly” on innovation and relies on teamwork and collaboration to achieve its goals. A part of this is Tesla’s ongoing creation and building of a work culture that is safe, respectful, fair, and inclusive for all of its employees.

Tesla Isn’t The Only Tech Company That Has This Battle

Earlier this year, CNBC pointed out that tech companies say that they value diversity but their reports show very little change over the past 6 years. Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter have seen low increases (in the single digits) in their percentages of Black employees. Amazon showed a higher increase, yet those numbers included warehouse and delivery workers.

Women have moved up as a higher part of the workforce, and Facebook is an example of this. When its report began in 2014, women made up 15% of its technical workforce. That number was 23% at the beginning of 2019.

However, with regards to Black employees, Facebook held the smallest increase, going from 3% to 3.8% in the past 5 years. So, the tech industry as a whole has a lot of work to do in regards to diversifying.

Where Tesla Is Now In Regards To Diversity

Tesla noted that where it is today demonstrates the progress that it has made and the steps it has taken up to this point. However, Tesla pointed out that it has more work to do to be representative of the evolving US population and emphasized that it is committed to implementing the plans it has developed to get there.

Tesla provided two comparison charts. The first one, below, shows a comparison between underrepresented communities’ representation in Tesla’s US workforce and underrepresented communities in leadership in its US workforce.

Charts provided by Tesla

In essence, Tesla has more people of color and minorities working in its US workforce than it has in leadership roles. Tesla has stated that it is reaching out to further engage the communities where its employees reside and that the company wants to work to inspire members of underrepresented communities to join Tesla on its mission.

“We are proud to be a majority-minority company, and we are proud to report that our business reflects the underrepresented communities that have struggled to break through the roadblocks to equal opportunity.” —Tesla DEI Impact Report 2020.

The other comparison chart Tesla provided was its gender representation in the US. The two charts below show that Tesla has a low percentage of women in both its US workforce and its leadership roles. Tesla knows that this is incredibly low and pointed out in the report that it has work to do in this area. [Editor’s note: We’ve been covering cleantech for more than a decade and have had a large share of female writers that whole time, yet we have a similar — if not worse — gender split among our readership. There are clearly broad issues that influence who is interested in cleantech industries. —Zach Shahan]

“We are committed to working alongside companies in these industries to make improvements. We are taking active steps to increase our outreach to women and build an inclusive culture that supports their development and retention. Increasing women’s representation at all levels, especially in leadership, is a top priority in 2021,” Tesla wrote.

Charts provided by Tesla

How Tesla Is Embracing Diversity

In its report, Tesla laid out its DEI roadmap, which highlighted the steps it is taking to improve these metrics. Tesla is doing these three things:

  1. Focusing on attracting, developing, and retaining its talent. 
  2. Integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and practices into its CNA. 
  3. Connecting with communities internally and externally to provide opportunities with Tesla.

Tesla will focus on equally developing a “deeper pipeline of diverse and exceptional candidates” while simultaneously creating an inclusive culture that supports them. Tesla has committed to recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In fact, you may remember my article on Tesla’s partnership with Huston-Tillotson University to provide internships and jobs for its students.

Tesla wants to build relationships with the leadership and faculty at HBCUs to support a “sustained pipeline of talented college graduates.” Tesla mentioned its partnership with Huston-Tillotson University in Austin in the report and noted that it is looking forward to welcoming the university’s students and alumni to its team.

Another goal of Tesla’s is expanding its internship program to attract diverse talent at its professional entry level. Its recruiting strategy focuses on communities where Tesla is located through partnerships with local communities such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, among others.

For Tech Companies To Be More Inclusive, We Must Demand The Same From Our Education Systems

When I was in school, I wasn’t encouraged to participate in math or science activities. Many schools have some type of magnet programs (that’s what they are called here, anyway), where students are selected due to their high scores. However, I remember being excluded and discouraged from even trying by teachers, and even my mother, who told me that she couldn’t afford the fees.

It should be noted that in a lot of households where the parents — in many cases single parents — are struggling to make ends meet, STEM is not really their focus. Many children fall through the cracks, and those who are smart are often bullied by their peers or oppressed in some type of way.

I’ve been told by teachers that, “no, you can’t do that, you are not smart enough.” I was even pressured into dropping out by my 9th grade English teacher, and I almost did. This isn’t supposed to happen in schools, but it does. I know I’m not the only one. We need a better education system that empowers students from a young age, and supports them at all ages no matter what their home environment is like.

Unfortunately, education isn’t a primary focus when it comes to many local, state, and federal policies. Teachers are underpaid and have large classrooms. In my own school, my classmates would often fight or bully the teacher, especially if it was a substitute. Unless one comes from a family that can afford private schools or better education, many who go to public schools are not properly educated as they should be. I never went to college and was often told it was out of my reach simply because I wasn’t smart enough to obtain a scholarship and didn’t have the money. I was actually working a full-time job in my last year of high school.

The issue I’m pointing out here, again, is that for tech companies such as Tesla to have diverse employees, our education system needs to focus on creating a better environment that is safe, respectable, and inclusive for underrepresented communities. STEM and the encouragement of STEM in schools is critical, as well as taking Tesla’s same attitude that it is implementing for its workforce and putting it in our education system.

Featured image from Tesla’s DEI Impact Report

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider