SAN FRANCISCO — Toxic workplaces — where harassment, stereotyping and bullying occur — are driving away women and people of color, undercutting technology companies' efforts to increase diversity and costing an estimated $16 billion a year.


Mitch and Freada Kapor have long been champions of equality. They talk about their hope for a more diverse tech workforce in Silicon Valley. Mitch was the man behind Lotus Notes and has gone on to be a big promoter of social issues.

That's the conclusion of a first-of-its-kind study from the Kapor Center for Social Impact and Harris Poll that explored the reasons people leave tech companies. 

"The study is an important first step in understanding how turnover and workplace culture contribute to the lack of diversity we are seeing in the tech industry," Dr. Allison Scott, the study's and chief research officer at the Kapor Center, told USA TODAY in an interview. 

All major tech companies track retention data, but they do not make it public. There's been an outpouring of first-hand accounts of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, bullying and racial bias on blogs, social media and in lawsuits. These strongly suggest high rates of turnover among the very groups companies are struggling to keep as they try to change the demographics of their mostly white and Asian male staffs