Google Has a Hard Time Keeping Black Employees

Illustration for article titled Google Has a Hard Time Keeping Black Employees
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Google has released a report admitting that it is struggling to keep its black employees.


“Attrition rates in 2017 were highest for Black Googlers followed by Latinx Googlers, and lowest for Asian Googlers,” the report says (pdf). “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. We’re working hard to better understand what drives higher attrition and taking focused measures to improve it.”

Just 2.5 percent of Google’s employees are black. The top leadership is 74.5 percent male and 66.9 percent white.

Google said that, according to surveys, employees of color cited a lack of feeling included as a reason for the high attrition.

There were a few small signs of progress in minority hiring:

There are modest but hopeful signs of success in hiring, where our focus is on reaching greater workforce representation of women globally, and for Black and Latinx Googlers in the U.S. In 2017, women hires in tech positions rose to 24.5% (+1 ppt), although overall hiring of women dropped from 31.4% to 31.2% (-0.2 ppts). Since 2014, women hires in tech have increased from 20.8% to 24.5% (+3.7 ppts), which shows that our focus on hiring more women into technical positions is having impact. In 2017, overall Latinx hires increased to 4.2% (+0.4 ppts), while Latinx hires in non-Tech roles increased to 7.2% (+1.5 ppts). Black Googler hires (3.2% of all U.S. hires) remain above current representation (2.5% of all U.S. Googlers), and hires of Black Googlers in tech positions increased from 1.9% to 2.0% (+0.1 ppt)

It doesn’t help that one of its now former employees, James Damore, circulated a memo last summer criticizing Google’s diversity initiatives; Gizmodo broke the story. Damore, who was eventually terminated, and another engineer sued Google in January for discrimination, according to CNN.

The reality is that these companies were never really built with diversity in mind, so they have to work backward, hoping that they will hit their stride somehow. Doesn’t appear that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.



Excellent article.

I believe that there are two problems here, and Google only has control over one of them: 1) recruiting, hiring, training and retaining people of color into the workforce; and 2) a society in which students of color are more likely to get severe punishments, and less likely to get encouraged to join STEM programs, and where many schools that have large minority populations are underfunded and under-managed.

Google can work hard and do more to fix problem #1 (and they should), but they are going to be running uphill until problem #2 gets improved. Yet another reason why Betsy DeVos belongs anywhere in the world other than head of the DOE. Literally, anywhere else.