Civil rights regulators in California are investigating the treatment of Black women at the parent company of Google, Alphabet Inc, after alleged incidents of harassment and discrimination occurred, according to Reuters.
Black women who have worked for the company have been interviewed by attorneys at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing about their experiences while working there. The Black women remained anonymous.
Unsurprisingly, Google is trying to save face and acting like everything is all good.
Google said it is focused on “building sustainable equity” for its Black workers and that 2020 was its largest year for hiring what it calls “Black+” workers, a designation inclusive of people belonging to multiple races.
“Our goal is to ensure that every employee experiences Google as an inclusive workplace,” it said. “We’ll continue to focus on this important work and thoroughly investigate any concerns, to make sure our workplace is representative and equitable.”
Many of the Black workers who were interviewed by the DFEH have filed complaints, but the regulators want more examples of the alleged discriminatory behavior, according to Reuters.
It is not out the norm for Black workers to be mistreated in any work setting, but especially in tech companies. Last month, Black Facebook workers wrote an open letter to the company saying they feel “as if we do not belong here.”
So it’s not surprising that this is going on at other prominent tech companies. But Google especially seems to be having some problems with people of color working at their companies.
Artificial intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru has said Google fired her a year ago for criticizing its lack of workforce diversity and for fighting managers who objected to publishing a critical paper she co-wrote. Erika Munro Kennerly, who oversaw diversity and strategy teams at Google before resigning last year, told magazine Corporate Counsel in January that “there’s an overall tone of being undervalued” as a Black woman at Google.
Workers identifying as “Black+ female” left Google at the highest rate of any racial-gender group other than “Native “American+ female” last year, according to company data. Google last year said it planned to boost retention by increasing support staffing and programs.
Yikes. On the one hand, Google is saying their goal is to ensure that every employee experiences their company as an inclusive workplace. But on the other they have Black employees coming out saying this?
Sounds like someone’s in trouble. Now, whether they face any consequences, we’ll have to wait and see.