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Google reportedly cut back its diversity programs, and employees said the move was meant to avoid backlash from conservatives (GOOG, GOOGL)

Sundar Pichai
  • Google has significantly scaled back diversity and inclusion efforts, moves that employees said were meant to help the company avoid a conservative backlash, NBC News reported Wednesday.
  • Since 2018, popular training programs have been watered down or scrapped entirely, and jobs on the team responsible for the programs have been outsourced or reassigned, according to NBC News.
  • "Any suggestion that we have scaled back or cut our diversity efforts is false. Diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a company wide commitment and our programs have scaled up to match the pace of Google's growth," a spokesperson told Business Insider.
  • Google has faced intense criticism in recent years from employees over racism, pay discrimination, and its handling of sexual misconduct amid a broader referendum on the tech industry's diversity problems.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Google has made massive cuts to its diversity and inclusion initiatives, with current and former employees saying the moves were meant to shield the company from conservative backlash, NBC News reported on Wednesday.
Since 2018, several popular programs aimed at teaching employees about implicit bias and how to have difficult conversations about race and inequality have been scaled back, while the team responsible for the programs has gotten smaller — due to outsourcing and Google opting not to refill positions after employees leave — according to NBC News.
"One of the major motivations for cutting Sojourn [one of Google's diversity initiatives] is that the company doesn't want to be seen as anti-conservative," an employee told NBC News. "It does not want to invite lawsuits or claims by right-wing white employees about Google discriminating against them."
A Google spokesperson disputed employees' claims, telling Business Insider in a statement: "Any suggestion that we have scaled back or cut our diversity efforts is false. Diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a company wide commitment and our programs have scaled up to match the pace of Google's growth."
A former Google engineer and author of a controversial anti-diversity memo circulated while he was still an employee sued the company in 2018, alleging that Google discriminated against conservatives, but he dropped the suit earlier this week.
Google told NBC News that it cut Sojourn because the program was mainly focused on racism in the US, making it difficult to scale globally. The majority of Google's 100,000-plus full-time employees are based in the US.
Google has had a tumultuous few years internally.
In November 2018, nearly 17,000 employees staged a walkout in protest of the company's handling of sexual misconduct investigations following a report that Google paid a top executive $90 million despite concluding he needed to resign due to a credible misconduct allegation against him.
Since then, employees have also spoken out against racism and sexism within the company's ranks. An engineering director who is black said last fall that he would be harassed less at work if he dressed like a janitor, while a black former employee circulated a memo saying he "never stopped feeling the burden of being black."
Last September, a Google engineering executive sued the company, alleging she was paid "hundreds of thousands" less than her male peers and demoted for complaining. Multiple employees have left or been fired by Google after speaking out about its treatment of women and marginalized groups, and the company now faces an investigation from the National Labor Relations Board into its firing of four employees in November.
Google's diversity and inclusion efforts haven't yet led to substantial progress for marginalized groups. The company's chief diversity officer left the company in April 2019 amid a string of controversies.
In 2019, black employees made up just 2.7% of Google's global workforce, a gain of 0.2 percentage points from the year before, while the share of Latinx employees increased from 3.6% to 3.8% and Native Americans made no progress, remaining at 0.3%. Similarly, women represented 30.9% of Google's workforce in 2018 and just 31.6% the following year.
Google's struggle to hire and keep diverse candidates reflects a broader trend in the industry, even though the issue has received widespread attention in recent years thanks to the #MeToo movement and several years of tech companies releasing diversity data.
SEE ALSO: Kickstarter is reducing its workforce by 39% through layoffs and voluntary buyouts as crowdfunding projects plummet during the pandemic
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:https://www.businessinsider.in/tech/news/google-reportedly-cut-back-its-diversity-programs-and-employees-said-the-move-was-meant-to-avoid-backlash-from-conservatives/articleshow/75728318.cms:

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