As many have noted, the lack of Hispanic and black workers at America’s leading tech companies is a major problem. And Magic Johnson just might have the solution.
“I’ve been doing this for over 35 years,” Johnson said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY. “I’ve done this for other big corporations as well: Best Buy, Aetna, on and on. I know how to do it. They just need to give me a call. If they’re looking for talent, give me a call. If they are looking for companies to partner with, give me a call.”
Johnson isn’t just an ex-athlete spouting off. Since retiring in 1996, he’s established himself as a formidable businessman, launching a chain of movie theaters, becoming co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Sparks, and investing in inner-city ventures.
According to Magic, there’s no lack of will: Blacks and Latinos want to make the move to Silicon Valley.
“Who wouldn’t want to work for Apple or Google?” Johnson said. “And it would be better for them as a company as well. That’s what it’s all about.”
While blacks and Latinos make up 12 and 14 percent of the U.S. workforce, respectively, data shows they’re struggling to make inroads in the tech sector. As per a recent USA Today study, only 3 percent of workers at the seven largest Silicon Valley firms are Hispanic, while 2 percent are black.
Many companies say they’re hiring all of the talented minority applicants they can find, but some experts suggest they’re not looking in the right places. One solution could be recruiting from schools whose tech programs turn out a lot of blacks and Latinos. Another option: taking Magic up on his offer.
“If you went out and said there are 20 job opportunities, or 100, and partner with a company like mine, we’ll get the word out to the colleges and schools, and tell them the opportunities are there. That’s what needs to happen,” Johnson said. “If you have these opportunities and don’t tell the potential candidates who are people of color about the opportunities until the jobs are filled….I understand that game. I’ve been in for a long time.”