A Google office search for Black women workers is starting to display some slim results. NBC News reports that in 2020, Black + female identifying employees left the company at the second highest rate of any other racial-gender group, following only that of Native + female identifying individuals. California’s civil rights regulator has begun conducting an investigation into the treatment of Google’s Black women employees after several complaints of discriminatory practices, and isolated incidents of harassment were made.
At the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), analysts and attorneys have conducted ongoing interviews among Black women who’ve been employed by Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Emails obtained reveal that participants were questioned (anonymously for their protection), in regards to their experiences around the alleged harassment and discrimination. Some of the interviews were conducted as recently as last month.
Despite Black women leaving the company in droves, Google reports that 2020 was their highest year so far for hiring what they call “Black +” workers, which include Black and multi-racial individuals.
“Our goal is to ensure that every employee experiences Google as an inclusive workplace,” stated a representative. “We’ll continue to focus on this important work and thoroughly investigate any concerns, to make sure our workplace is representative and equitable.”
But representation just doesn’t cut it when those hired to meet a quota are treated unfairly. NBC also reports that as Black men began entering into the tech industry, they faced endless harassment, with multiple complaints being filed following men being locked out of offices by security and other personnel questioning their presence in the building. As more Black women have gained employment within the industry, these types of cases have only increased. Unfortunately, it is rare that they result in charges.
In a separate investigation conducted earlier this year by NBC News, it was revealed that in many instances, Black, Latino, and other employees of color working for Google were encouraged to take medical leave after filing their complaints. Others were flat out fired.
Timnit Gubru, an artificial intelligence researcher says that she was let go from the company after criticizing the lack of diversity within its workforce. Gubru also co-wrote an article with a colleague about the issues, which the company refused to publish.
Other employees have agreed that there’s an overall tone of being undervalued as a Black woman within the company, and yet, Google intends to double down on its “of color” staffing and its retention efforts.