Google talks diversity but makes little progress with workforce
Google’s latest diversity report, its first since the company’s controversial firing of employee James Damore, shows continued struggles in its goal to make its workforce more diverse: The number of women, black and Latinx employees rose just 0.1 percent in the past year.
So the tech giant is doubling down and making changes, including making diversity and inclusion a priority for the company’s “most senior leaders,” Danielle Brown, chief diversity and inclusion officer, said in the report released Thursday. Until now, the People Operations team had the bulk of the responsibility for the effort.
A shareholder proposal to tie workforce-diversity gains to executive pay was rejected at Google’s annual meeting in early June.
Google also is making public more details about its workforce representation, including by sharing attrition rates, plus data by race and gender, for the first time.
Black and Latinx — a fairly new collective term for both Latinos and Latinas — employees had the highest attrition rates, respectively, so any hiring gains Google made among those groups were offset by departures from the company.
“Based on employee surveys, we have learned that feeling included is associated with lower attrition for all employees, especially people of color,” Brown said in the report. “So we are accelerating efforts to ensure all Googlers–and in particular those from underrepresented groups–experience Google as an inclusive workplace.”
At the company’s recent annual shareholder meeting, Google employee Irene Knapp spoke of employees feeling “unsafe” when it comes to advocating for diversity in the workplace.
“The chilling effect of harassment and doxxing has impaired productivity and company culture,” Knapp said. “Responses from HR have been inadequate, leaving minority communities unprotected.”
Last year, former Google engineer Damore wrote a memo in which he criticized the company’s diversity push and suggested that biological differences made women less suited to tech careers. He was fired and has since sued Google, accusing it of discriminating against men, conservatives and white people.
According to Google’s latest diversity report, the company’s U.S. workforce is 53.1 percent white, 36.3 percent Asian, 3.6 percent Latinx and 2.5 percent black. Employees who identify as two or more races make up 4.2 percent of the workforce. Women comprise 30.9 percent of Google’s global workforce.
Google did tout gains in its leadership ranks, saying women now hold 25.5 percent of leadership positions in the company worldwide. That’s a 4.7 percent gain in the past four years. From 2017 to 2018, Google said black leadership rose from 1.5 percent to 2 percent, while Latinx leadership inched up from 1.7 percent to 1.8 percent.
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