November 1, 2017

A Survey of Diversity within Fortune 500 Companies

Jack Beckwith

Debates surrounding workplace diversity and the prevalence of toxic work cultures made plenty of headlines this summer. Many of those headlines stemmed from incidents in the tech world at places like Uber and Google. They brought an important question to the fore: are major corporations and the people within them doing enough to promote diversity in their offices?

We wanted to contextualize that conversation with some much needed data. In the below graphic, we've charted the gender and ethnic breakdown of the workforces at 92 Fortune 500 companies. Over 80% of Fortune 500 companies are left off because they haven't openly released data on the diversity of their employees.

Fortune 500 Demographics
Fortune 500 Demographics Mobile

An important methodological note is in order here. The gender breakdown for each company reflects the male-to-female ratio within the global workforce. The data on ethnicity, meanwhile, only takes into consideration U.S. employees in almost all cases. Most companies report their diversity figures in this way to adhere to the format of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's EEO-1 report.

Based on the data we've presented here, there is still significant gender imbalance in some of America's biggest companies. Of the 91 companies for which we have gender data, 60 have a workforce that is a majority male.

On ethnic diversity, Fortune 500 companies fair slightly better. About half of companies represented have a workforce composed of more than 38.7% ethnic minorities. That would make its employees more diverse than the U.S. population, which was 61.3% white (not Hispanic / Latino) as of July 1, 2016. Still, these numbers don't address the diversity within each company's managerial ranks and executive teams. Those are likely much less diverse than the company at large.


We've leveraged the work of Fortune's Stacy Jones and Grace Donnelly, who compiled a dataset of workplace diversity statistics for Fortune 500 companies back in June 2017. 

The dataset includes diversity figures for sixteen companies where full data was available. They considered a "full" data release to be an EEO-1 report or something equivalent.

The dataset also has links to a website or corporate report where the business provides any information on the gender, race, or ethnicity of its employees. Jones and Donnelly considered this a "partial" data release.

Because we were interested in top line gender and ethnic breakdowns, the partial release data suited our purposes just fine. We combed through each link in Fortune's dataset, in most cases a "Corporate Social Responsibility" report. When the provided link sent us to a report from 2015 or before, we did our best to substitute it with something more recent.

Nerd Notes:

Graphic created in Tableau.