Lyft's Diversity Figures Are Better Than Uber's, But Only a Little

Lyft's first diversity report shows that, like other tech companies, its staff is mostly white and male.

Josh Edelson/AP Images for Lyft

Light's first diversity report shows that the company is slightly ahead of rival Uber and the Silicon Valley tech industry in general when it comes to having a diverse work force...but only by a little. 

The release of the report comes amid continued criticism of tech companies over lack of gender and ethnic diversity. Uber in particular has faced harsh criticism since a female former engineer accused the company of tolerating sexual harassment in February. Seeing an opportunity, Lyft president John Zimmer has tried to position his company as a more ethical alternative to Uber

But the figures in Lyft's diversity report aren't dramatically different from those in Uber's report, which was released in March. According to the report, 42 percent of the Lyft workforce identifies as female. That includes 36 percent of people in leadership positions, but only 18 percent of people in tech jobs. 13 percent of the executives in that area identify as female, including Lyft's director of engineering.

Regarding ethnicity, the report showed that 63 percent of Lyft's workforce is white, 19 percent is Asian, 7 percent is Latino or Latina, and 6 percent is black. The tech workforce is 51 percent white, 38 percent Asian, 4 percent Latino or Latina, and 2 percent black. The executive contingent is 70 percent white, 18 percent Asian, 5 percent Latino or Latina, and 1 percent black. Its tech leadership is 59 percent white and 34 percent Asian, and does not include anyone identifying as Latino/Latina or black.

Lyft's diversity figures are generally better than Uber's. Only 22 percent of the latter company's leadership is female, compared to 36 percent for Lyft, for example. But it's arguable whether the gaps are dramatic enough to justify Lyft's claims of a more egalitarian corporate culture. 

Overall, the diversity reports for both Lyft and Uber don't differ significantly from other Silicon Valley tech companies, which remain overwhelmingly white and male.

Lyft's workforce is also much smaller than Uber's. It employees about 1,600 people, while its rival employs closer to 12,000. While Lyft is undeniably the second-biggest player in U.S. ride sharing, it remains far behind Uber in terms of scale. And while the bigger company operates in over 60 countries, Lyft only operates in the U.S.

Lyft seems aware of its shortcomings in the diversity realm. In a blog post announcing the diversity report, Lyft said "we have a lot of work to do." Last year, it named Tariq Meyers as head of "Inclusion and Diversity" programs, and is working with Paradigm, a "diversity strategy firm," to find ways to encourage diversity in its workforce.