Professionalism/The Work Climate at Google
In August 2017, James Damore was fired from Google after authoring Google's Ideological Echo Chamber, a controversial memo criticizing diversity efforts made at the company. Damore and his co plaintiff, David Gudeman, have filed a class action lawsuit against Google for alleged discrimination against conservative white men. The lawsuit calls into question whether the claim that the tech giant discriminates against certain ideologies is founded, and the corporate culture at Google.
Google's Corporate CultureEdit
Unlike many companies, Google actively encourages its employees to express themselves, discuss policies, and oppose decisions made by management. Google prides itself on openness, and has multiple forums and service available to foster discussion. Because Google encourages openness and sharing of controversial ideas, their decision to fire James Damore angered some employees who saw it as a betrayal of the open-discourse culture. Google reasoned that Damore crossed a line with his memo "by advancing harmful gender stereotypes." Google was similarly criticized for its conditional support of openness in 2015 when Erica Baker, a then Google employee, was reprimanded and denied a bonus after publishing a spreadsheet online for her coworkers to compare salaries. Google has come under fire for promoting free speech, but selectively punishing employees for open discussion.
Google has also come under fire for their forced arbitration policies. Under these policies, all Google employees must settle any legal disputes with the company through private arbitration rather than through civil court procedure. This policy was particularly troubling in cases of sexual misconduct in the workplace. In October 2018, The New York Times published an article about Andy Rubin's 2014 firing pursuant from an internal sexual misconduct investigation. The article also told a number of other stories about Google's handling of sexual misconduct cases. Soon after the article was published, a number of Google employees organized a walkout, demanding an end to forced arbitration in cases of sexual misconduct and discrimination. Over 20,000 employees participated in the November 2018 walkout, prompting Google to give in to many of their demands. After continued pressure by employees, in March 2019, the company eliminated all forced arbitration policies for current and future employees.
Google's Diversity MissionEdit
Google is vocal about its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and was one of the first major tech companies to annually publish the race and gender breakdown of its workforce. Google also funds community programs to increase interest in computer science and software engineering. In its 2019 diversity report, Google included the following statement on its commitment to diversity:
"Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. When we say we want to build for everyone, we mean everyone. To do that well, we need a workforce that’s more representative of the users we serve. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are business imperatives for Google. They improve outcomes for our employees, our products, and our users... We are committed to a set of goals to increase workforce representation and to create a more inclusive culture."—Google diversity annual report 2019
Google's culture of promoting expression and opposition sometimes clashes with its diversity mission. Critics such as Damore argue that Google has a selective commitment to diversity and inclusion, and that the company does not tolerate diversity of thought and opinion.
The following statistics are based on Google’s Annual Diversity Report of 2019. Data specific to racial categories are based on U.S. data only. As the data shows, change is very slow, and some of these statistics only get better by a fraction of a percent each year. But it is important to remember that even the tiny incremental progress is progress.
- Women – rose to 33.2% globally (up by 1.9 points)
- Asian+ and White+ women hiring increased the most out of any other race category
- Black+ - rose to 4.8% (up by 0.7 points)
- Black+ women – rose to 2.2% (up by 0.8 points)
- Latinx+ - rose to 6.8% (up by 0.5 points)
- Latinx+ women – rose to 2.7% (up by 0.7 points)
- Native American+ - rose to 1.1% (up by 0.3 points)
- Native American+ women – rose to 0.5% (up by 0.3 points)
Hiring across Tech and Non-Tech careers have risen for most racial categories of women across the U.S. Leadership hires, on the other hand, have decreased to 25.9% (down by 3.5 points) globally. Google claims to be fixing that disparity by creating more leadership focused events for women and by reaching out to more female leaders in Europe and Asia.
*rate of employees leaving the company annually. This index is based around the global overall attrition being 100. The lower the index, the more likely that group is to stay with the company.
- Globally, women hold an attrition index of 90, while men hold an index of 104
- In most racial groups of the U.S. (except for Native American+), women are significantly more likely to stay with Google compared to men, with an index difference of at least 15 points
Overall, women are more like to stay with Google than men. While this does show that Google is keeping its promise to promote women and diversity in the workplace, it could also be interpreted as showing that it is more difficult for women to find a better (financially and professionally) job to support their career growth.
- Women (globally) – rose to 26.1% (up by 0.6 points)
- In the U.S., White+ hold 66.6% of leadership positions, though that disparity is slowly being corrected over the years. White+ men make up almost 75% of those leadership positions
- Asian+ - hold 29% of leadership positions, and Asian+ men have twice as many leadership roles compared to Asian+ women.
Google LLC has engaged in political spending since 2006, and spending has traditionally been distributed equally between parties. Since 2014, their average and total donations have been slightly higher for Republican candidates. The spending habits of Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, give more insight into the political atmosphere of the company. In 2016, Alphabet Inc. was the 12th largest lobbying group and the 51st largest political donor. In 2018, the rankings were 8th and 45th respectively. In total, the group donated $8,924,720 and $7,623,518 respectively to political campaigns in 2016 and 2018 . Donations made by associated PACs of Alphabet Inc., including Google LLC, are nearly evenly distributed between the Democratic and Republican Parties. However, donations from individuals associated with Alphabet Inc., which made up over two thirds of the group's total donations, skew heavily toward the Democratic Party. This suggests that while Google and Alphabet Inc. have diverse political interests that would encourage bi-partisan donations, its leaders and employees definitely lean towards the left.
- Camila Domonoske, "James Damore Sues Google, Alleging Discrimination Against Conservative White Men", National Public Radio, January 9th, 2018
- Laura He, "Google's Secrets Of Innovation: Empowering Its Employees", Forbes, Mar 29, 2013
- Daisuke Wakabayashi, "A Crisis Forces Google to Uphold Its Values While Fostering Debate", The New York Times, Aug. 11, 2017
- Madeline Buxton, "A Google Employee Spreadsheet Shows Pay Disparities Between Men & Women", Refinery29, September 8, 2017
- Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner, "How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android", New York Times, 2018
- Claire Stapleton, Tanuja Gupta, Meredith Whittaker, Celie O'Neil-Hart, Stephanie Parker, Erica Anderson, and Amr Gaber, "We’re the Organizers of the Google Walkout. Here Are Our Demands", The Cut, 2018
- Daisuke Wakabayashi, "Google Ends Forced Arbitration for All Employee Disputes" The New York Times, 2019
- Jamie Condliffe, "Google’s Diversity Efforts, Charted", The New York Times, June 18, 2018
- Danielle Brown and Melonie Parker, "Google Diversity Annual Report", Google, 2019
- Daisuke Wakabayashi, "Google Is Trying Too Hard (or Not Hard Enough) to Diversify", The New York Times, March 9, 2018
- OpenSecrets.org, "Google LLC. summary", Google Spending, 2019
- OpenSecrets.org, "Alphabet Inc. Summary", Alphabet spending',' 2019