Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Practices at Google: Has There Been Real Change?
| Case Code: HROB247
Case Length: 14 Pages
Pub Date: 2023
Teaching Note: Available
| Price: Rs.400
Organization: Google Inc
Industry: Technology & Communications
Countries: United States
Themes: Diversity and Inclusion, Corporate Governance, Discrimination,Workplace Diversity
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts
The case discusses diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) problems at US based tech giant Google. The company is facing difficulties, particularly in retaining women of color, and the majority of its US workforce continues to be white and male. Google’s 2021 Diversity Annual Report showed a rising attrition among women of color. The attrition figure for Black women rose from 110 in 2020 to 146 in 2021 on an attrition index that used 100 as the baseline. Google was also criticized by former employees for not going far enough with its diversity efforts and for scaling back diversity and inclusion programs such as Sojourn and Allyship 101 to appease conservative critics.
Google is reportedly under investigation for how it treats Black female workers. The company faced a slew of criticism in late 2020 and 2021 for how it handled the firing of Artificial Intelligence (AI) ethics researcher Timnit Gebru after she wrote a paper that questioned the pitfalls of large language models and how they promoted gender bias. She accused Google of racism and retaliation, and expressed frustration over Google’s response to her efforts to increase minority hiring and draw attention to bias in AI. The ousting of the AI expert caused an uproar among thousands of Google employees who claimed that she faced defensiveness, racism, research censorship, and retaliatory firing. On the heels of the removal of Timnit Gebru in February 2021, Google fired the co-lead of its AI ethics unit, Margaret Mitchell, claiming she had violated the company's code of conduct. Both women had campaigned for more diversity at Google and raised concerns about censorship within the company.
Though Google has a reputation as one of the best places to work for, it has been facing increasing scrutiny over its DEI practices, including paying large exit packages to male executives accused of sexual assault and gender pay disparity. Also, some women employees have claimed that in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act, Google pays men more for doing the same job and that it promotes women employees slower and far less frequently.
Going forward, the challenges before Sundar Pichai (Pichai), CEO of Google, would be to focus on finding solutions to the longstanding challenges of DEI at Google, retaining its underrepresented employees, and creating an inclusive culture companywide. One of the biggest challenges would be to improve leadership representation of underrepresented groups by 30% by 2025, more than double the number of Black Googlers at all other levels by 2025, regain the trust of employees, and recruit and retain the best AI researchers.
The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:
- Understand the importance of building diversity, equity, and inclusion into a workplace and its role in creating a positive work environment.
- Discuss the various initiatives taken by Google to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Identify the challenges in implementing diversity policies at large companies, and the issues companies can expect to face when creating and maintaining an image of diversity.
- Understand the importance of advocating for diversity, inclusion, and ethics in AI.
- Explore how Google can build a more representative workforce and how it can foster an inclusive environment for every employee.
Commitment to Diversity
Firing of Top AI Ethics Researchers
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Organizational Behavior; Ethics; Organization Culture; Gender Pay Gap; Corporate Governance; Discrimination; Sexual Harassment; Employee Attrition
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