Google Employees Continue Push for Top-Down Diversity

By Alexandra Bacchus

  • Google’s shareholders & workers propose a new resolution to fix the lack of diversity

  • In 2018, Google’s workforce was 2.5% black compared to 1.9% in 2014

An employee led effort at Google (GOOG -0.26%) is putting pressure on the board to improve racial and gender diversity at the company. This comes after last year’s failed attempt to tie diversity metrics to executive bonuses or other financial incentives to motivate top down change.

Why This Matters: After last year’s shareholder proposal to tie diversity benchmarks to executive pay, Google said the proposal would not, “enhance Alphabet’s existing commitment to corporate sustainability.” However, many other companies would disagree like Microsoft (MSFT 0.19%), Intel (INTC -0.11%), and IBM (IBM -0.32%) all tie leadership bonuses to their inclusion goals in some form or another. While Google’s workforce has become more diverse in the past few years, the numbers are only climbing slowly. In 2018, their workforce was 2.5% black compared to 1.9% in 2014. By comparison, African-Americans make up nearly 14% of the United States population.

Tech companies across the country struggle to hire a more diverse workforce, but with over 85,000 employees, Google is expected to set an example for corporate social responsibility and inclusive hiring. The newest resolution comes after Google’s parent company, Alphabet, refused to add a worker representative to the board and end their company-wide forced arbitration policy. Forced arbitration requires workers to settle legal issues outside of court, often meaning less money for employees if they win. Right now, only sexual harassment cases are exempt from this policy.

Situational Awareness: With a representative workforce, companies are better able to identify pain points with their customers because of the wide range of skill sets and points of view that are present. Many argue that this also results in more profitable companies. Hopefully the upcoming shareholder meeting will yield a different result than last time so we don’t have to Google “diversity crisis at Google” anymore.

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