Google has a hard time keeping its black employees

Posted at 1:56 PM, Jun 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-17 13:56:27-04

Google’s employee attrition rates are highest for black and Hispanic employees.

That’s according to the company’s annual diversity report, released this week. For the first time, the report included data around employee attrition to gauge retention of certain cohorts of employees.

According to the report, Google’s difficulty in retaining black Google employees has offset some of its hiring gains and led to smaller increases in representation than if it had been able to keep employees already at the company.

“Attrition rates in 2017 were highest for Black Googlers followed by Latinx Googlers, and lowest for Asian Googlers,” the report said. “Black Googler attrition rates, while improving in recent years, have offset some of our hiring gains, which has led to smaller increases in representation than we would have seen otherwise.”

Google’s black and Hispanic employees make up 2.5% and 3.6% of US employees, according to the report.

That’s minimal movement compared to last year’s report, which found black employees make up 2.4% and Hispanics make up 3.5%. Representation in the tech roles is slightly up for black employees, making up 1.5% of the 2017 workforce compared to 1.4% the year prior.

For the first time, the report looked at the intersection of race and gender for employees; black women and Hispanic women make up the smallest percentages of the workforce.

In an unusual move, Google employees recently partnered with investors to push a proposal at its parent company’s shareholder meeting calling for the company to link executive pay to diversity and inclusion metrics.

“It is our belief as investors, as engineers and as technical professionals that a lack of executive leadership around sustainability, diversity and inclusion fundamentally hurts the quality of products Alphabet can deliver to users,” Irene Knapp, a software engineer at Google, said at the shareholder meeting in Mountain View, California.

Google’s latest diversity report reveals leadership is 74.5% male and 66.9% white.

The proposal, put forth by investment firm Zevin Asset Management and backed by some current employees, was predictably voted down.

Knapp also called out a more immediate need to boost the safety and well-being of minority employees.

“The lack of clear, communicated policies and actions to advance diversity and inclusion with concrete accountability and leadership from senior executives has left many of us feeling unsafe and unable to do our work,” Knapp said.

Google’s company culture has been called into question over the past year.

Several employees have sued the company claiming discrimination, including a former engineer, Tim Chevalier, who filed a suit in February claiming retaliation, wrongful termination and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment. The suit alleges some employees use the company’s internal social-networking and messaging systems to belittle and bully women, people of color and LGBTQ colleagues.

The latest diversity report also marks the first report since James Damore’s controversial diversity memo critiquing Google’s diversity policies that was widely circulated last summer. Parts of the memo were condemnedby CEO Sundar Pichai, such as claims that women aren’t well represented in tech due to “biological” reasons. Damore, and another former engineer, sued Google in January for discrimination.

The company has had to publicly wrestle with how to support employees’ ability to express themselves — while ensuring that its workplace remains an inviting space for all.

“We look forward to inviting you back next year to see what progress we make,” said Danielle Brown, Google’s chief diversity and inclusion officer in the report. “Success is never guaranteed, but this work is fundamental to Google’s mission … We are determined we will have the impact the world expects of us, and that we expect of ourselves.”