Google Barely Moves Needle on Gender, Diversity in Workforce

Google Barely Moves Needle on Gender, Diversity in Workforce
  • Google barely raised the number of women among its ranks
  • It got less white and more Asian over the past year
  • White workers remained the majority at 53.1 percent

Google released its annual workforce diversity report Thursday, marking only modest changes from last year. The company remains mostly white and male. But the report offers a better view of what the workforce looks like as the company revealed its gender breakdown across ethnicities for the first time.

Overall, Google's global workforce is 69.1 percent male and 30.9 percent female, virtually unchanged from 2017.

In its breakdown on race and ethnicity, which only covers U.S. employees, 2.5 percent of Googlers are Black/African American, up from 2.4 percent in 2017. Figures for Latinx workers also showed a modest improvement. Google reported that 3.6 percent of its workforce is Latinx, compared with last year's 3.5 percent. Asian representation at Google has increased modestly from 34.7 percent in 2017 to 36.3 percent.

When looking at the gender by ethnicity breakdown, women are less represented in the company's U.S. ranks when compared with men. Black women make up only 1.2 percent of the workforce, compared with 1.8 percent for black men. Women identified as Latinx make up 1.7 percent compared with 3.6 percent for Latinx men; Asian women account for 12.5 percent of the U.S. workforce, compared with 25.7 percent for Asian men. White women make up 15.5 of the workforce, compared with 41.1 percent for white men.

The diversity report arrived after a recent shareholder meeting in which employees and investors called for improvements to workplace culture and better enforcement of policies against harassment. An investor's proposal that failed to pass would have tied the pay of Google executives to meeting goals for diversity and inclusion.

The debate around the lack of gender and ethnic diversity in Silicon Valley grew louder last year after an engineer at Google wrote an internal memo claiming that "genetic differences" might explain "why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership." The memo spread quickly online, and its author, James Damore, was fired from the company for "perpetuating gender stereotypes." Responses to Damore's writing caused further turmoil at Google. Some employees who criticized the memo became targets of online harassment after their names were leaked to conservative websites and commentators.

In its latest diversity report, Google for the first time included new information tied to its hiring and attrition. The company reported that attrition rates were highest for black and Latinx employees, indicating that keeping underpresented groups fulfilled at work is another challenge for the company. Google reported narrow improvements in hiring for technical positions, with hires for women up 1 percent, Latinx staff up 0.4 percent and black employees up 0.1 percent.

"The data in this report shows that despite significant effort, and some pockets of success, we need to do more to achieve our desired diversity and inclusion outcomes," Google said in the report.

Danielle Brown, Google's vice president and chief diversity officer, told The Washington Post in an interview that company officials are admittedly not where they want to be, but she remained optimistic that things can improve.

In January, Brown instituted a new strategy for boosting diversity, which includes sharing the latest representation data with chief executive Sundar Pichai and the leadership team every other week, she said. Department heads are also tasked with meeting intermediate milestones related to hiring, development, progression and retention. One of Google's major goals is to reach or exceed the representation of available talent pools for black and Hispanic employees in the United States at all levels of the company, she said.

"In order to achieve our desired outcomes we need to do more, and we are really committed to that," Brown said.

Alphabet, Google's parent company, has roughly 85,000 employees worldwide, with the vast majority of them working at Google.

© The Washington Post 2018


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