theodp writes "The Mercury News reports that Google, whose stated mission is to make the world's information universally accessible, says the race and gender of its work force is a trade secret that cannot be released. So do Apple, Yahoo, Oracle, and Applied Materials. The five companies waged a successful 18-month FOIA battle with the Merc, convincing federal regulators who collect the data that its release would cause 'commercial harm' by potentially revealing the companies' business strategy to competitors. Law professor John Sims called the objections — the details of which the Dept. of Labor declined to share — 'absurd.' Many industry peers see the issue differently — Intel, Cisco, eBay, AMD, Sanmina, and Sun agreed to allow the DOL to provide the requested info. 'There's nothing to hide, in our view,' said a spokesman for Intel. Some observers note it's not the first time Google has declined to put a number on its vaunted diversity — in earlier Congressional testimony, Google's top HR exec dodged the question of how many African-American employees the company had."