Google reportedly cut back its diversity programs, and employees said the move was meant to avoid backlash from conservatives (GOOG, GOOGL)
Google has significantly scaled back diversity and inclusion efforts, moves that employees said were meant to help the company avoid a conservative backlash, NBC News reported Wednesday. Since 2018, popular training programs have been watered down or scrapped entirely, and jobs on the team responsible for the programs have been outsourced or reassigned, according to NBC News. "Any suggestion that we have scaled back or cut our diversity efforts is false. Diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a company wide commitment and our programs have scaled up to match the pace of Google's growth," a spokesperson told Business Insider. Google has faced intense criticism in recent years from employees over racism, pay discrimination, and its handling of sexual misconduct amid a broader referendum on the tech industry's diversity problems. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Google has made massive cuts to its diversity and inclusion initiatives, with current and former employees saying the moves were meant to shield the company from conservative backlash, NBC News reported on Wednesday. Since 2018, several popular programs aimed at teaching employees about implicit bias and how to have difficult conversations about race and inequality have been scaled back, while the team responsible for the programs has gotten smaller — due to outsourcing and Google opting not to refill positions after employees leave — according to NBC News. "One of the major motivations for cutting Sojourn [one of Google's diversity initiatives] is that the company doesn't want to be seen as anti-conservative," an employee told NBC News. "It does not want to invite lawsuits or claims by right-wing white employees about Google discriminating against them." A Google spokesperson disputed employees' claims, telling Business Insider in a statement: "Any suggestion that we have scaled back or cut our diversity efforts is false. Diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a company wide commitment and our programs have scaled up to match the pace of Google's growth." A former Google engineer and author of a controversial anti-diversity memo circulated while he was still an employee sued the company in 2018, alleging that Google discriminated against conservatives, but he dropped the suit earlier this week. Google told NBC News that it cut Sojourn because the program was mainly focused on racism in the US, making it difficult to scale globally. The majority of Google's 100,000-plus full-time employees are based in the US. Google has had a tumultuous few years internally. In November 2018, nearly 17,000 employees staged a walkout in protest of the company's handling of sexual misconduct investigations following a report that Google paid a top executive $90 million despite concluding he needed to resign due to a credible misconduct allegation against him. Since then, employees have also spoken out against racism and sexism within the company's ranks. An engineering director who is black said last fall that he would be harassed less at work if he dressed like a janitor, while a black former employee circulated a memo saying he "never stopped feeling the burden of being black." Last September, a Google engineering executive sued the company, alleging she was paid "hundreds of thousands" less than her male peers and demoted for complaining. Multiple employees have left or been fired by Google after speaking out about its treatment of women and marginalized groups, and the company now faces an investigation from the National Labor Relations Board into its firing of four employees in November. Google's diversity and inclusion efforts haven't yet led to substantial progress for marginalized groups. The company's chief diversity officer left the company in April 2019 amid a string of controversies. In 2019, black employees made up just 2.7% of Google's global workforce, a gain of 0.2 percentage points from the year before, while the share of Latinx employees increased from 3.6% to 3.8% and Native Americans made no progress, remaining at 0.3%. Similarly, women represented 30.9% of Google's workforce in 2018 and just 31.6% the following year. Google's struggle to hire and keep diverse candidates reflects a broader trend in the industry, even though the issue has received widespread attention in recent years thanks to the #MeToo movement and several years of tech companies releasing diversity data.SEE ALSO: Kickstarter is reducing its workforce by 39% through layoffs and voluntary buyouts as crowdfunding projects plummet during the pandemic Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
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After years of struggling to improve company diversity, Google is vowing to make bigger strides in racial equity and inclusion. But one promise feels very unambitious. (GOOG)
This week, Google announced several changes to improve racial equity and inclusion within the company. The...This week, Google announced several changes to improve racial equity and inclusion within the company. The list of commitments published by CEO Sundar Pichai included several promising concrete improvements. One of those promises was to increase underrepresented groups at a leadership level by 30% by 2025. But while it sounds like a big jump, the number of underrepresented groups in Google leadership is very low. A 30% increase in Black leaders would bring the total to just 3.4% by 2025. Do you work at Google? You can contact this reporter securely using encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 628-228-1836) or encrypted email (email@example.com). Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Google, like the rest of Silicon Valley, is currently reckoning with the little progress it has made over the years to improve diversity and inclusion within the company. Year after year, Google's diversity reports have shown very little improvement to the number of people from underrepresented groups it hires and retains. And year after year, the company has promised to do better. According to the company's latest diversity report, Black employees comprise just 3.7% of Google's workforce, up from 3.3% the year before. Now, the company is making some concrete promises to change things. In a memo from CEO Sundar Pichai published this week, Google set out a series of commitments to improve its efforts in racial equity. The changes include doing away with the company's peer-based badge checking, new anti-racism programs for employees, and pledging $175 million to support Black businesses. Google also promised to increase underrepresented leadership by 30% by 2025. "Our goal is a 30% increase in the proportion of Black+, Hispanic/Latinx+ and Native American+ leaders we have in the U.S. and technical women leaders globally," a spokesperson told Business Insider. That 30% might sound like a big jump, but the math makes it unambitious. According to its 2020 diversity report, just 2.6% of Google's leadership is Black, 3.7% is Latinx, and 0.5% is Native American. A 30% increase would boost that total of underrepresented groups from 6.8% to 8.8%. Or, if you take just the Black employees in leadership roles, it would boost the number of Black leaders from 2.6% to 3.4% by 2025. While each percentage point represents thousands of jobs, according to Google, that's still not a big improvement overall. As Daniel Zhao, a data scientist at Glassdoor pointed out in a tweet, Google would need to increase the number of Black employees in leadership roles by more than 400% to reach parity with Black population of the US, estimated to be 13.4% by the most recent census data. Pichai said Google will work to boost its leadership diversity by advertising senior leadership roles both externally and internally, and increase investment in Google officers outside of Mountain View such as London, Washington DC, and Atlanta. Many of the other changes Google is proposing feel more encouraging than what we've seen in the past. For example, the company said it will introduce a new "multi-series" training program for employees which "explores systemic racism and racial consciousness." NBC recently reported that Google had been scaling back its inclusion and diversity training programs since 2018. Pichai also said Google would convene a task force "to develop concrete recommendations and proposals for accountability across all of the areas that affect the Black+ Googler experience, from recruiting and hiring, to performance management, to career progression and retention." Those changes are good and should be celebrated, but when it comes to its commitment to boosting diversity numbers within the company, it's a shame Google couldn't be a little more ambitious.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button
Google has created a special task force to help improve the company's racial equity, and a leaked memo reveals employees suggested more than 500 changes (GOOG)
Google has created a new group called the Equity Project Management Office, which will review employee...Google has created a new group called the Equity Project Management Office, which will review employee suggestions on how the company can improve on racial equity. In a memo seen by Business Insider, CEO Sundar Pichai said employees had sent management more than 500 suggestions on how it could improve. The new office will work with Google's Black employee networks to "sustain" the ideas over time. Employees were also told that Juneteenth would be put aside for a day of "learning and reflection." Do you work at Google? You can contact this reporter securely using encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 628-228-1836) or encrypted email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Click here to get BI Prime's weekly Trending tech newsletter in your email inbox. Google has created a new central group to review employee suggestions on how it can improve its racial equity, according to an internal memo viewed by Business Insider. Last week, Google employees were asked to share ideas on how the company could improve on areas such as racial justice and diversity. In the new memo, CEO Sundar Pichai said more than 500 suggestions had been sent to management. Pichai told employees Google had created a central group called the Equity Project Management Office to review these ideas. The plan is for the group to then work with Google's Black leadership group and Black Googler Network to "sustain" the ideas over time, Pichai said. "Last week, I asked for your ideas, and we have received more than 500 suggestions on how we should move our racial equity work forward," Pichai told employees. "Just as we did with COVID-19, we've set up a central group — an Equity Project Management Office — to look at all the ideas. Our Black Leadership Advisory Group and BGN Leads have developed a framework and structure that will guide our efforts and help us sustain these ideas over time." The message was sent a day after NBC News published a report that said a rising number of Black Google employees were unhappy with how the company had responded to the Black Lives Matter movement. According to the NBC report this week, internal links to some courses on racial bias and allyship that Facebook provided employees led to dead ends, while messages on the internal Black Googler Network message board criticized the company for cutting certain anti-racism programs. "Internally, our areas of focus are: building equity for Google's Black+ community through anti-racism education; managerial and employee accountability; intentional Black+ talent management; and a particular focus on wellbeing for Black Googlers," Pichai wrote in the new memo. Employees were also told that the company would use Juneteenth — June 19 — as a day of "learning and reflection" and asked Googlers to not schedule any unnecessary meetings. Pichai also said the day would include a "special conversation" with Alicia Keys, per the memo. "We encourage all Googlers to use this day to create space for learning and reflection," he wrote. A Google spokesperson told Business Insider the company had nothing further to share. Twitter and Square recently announced they were making Juneteenth a company holiday, while Microsoft asked managers to cancel meetings to give employees a "day of listening, learning, and engaging." Black employees comprised 3.7% of Google parent company Alphabet's workforce last year, according to the company's latest diversity report, and improvements over time have been very incremental. "We are committed to making long-term, sustainable change and to deeply engaging with our Black+ community to make sure that we get it right," Pichai said in the memo. "I realize you are eager to see us make more concrete commitments, and look forward to sharing more next week."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths