Google’s Parent Company Hires First Black Board Executive


Google parent company Alphabet is adding finance chops and diversity to its board with the appointment of economist Roger Ferguson. 

Ferguson is the first African American to serve on the board of Alphabet and Google, marking a major milestone in Google’s effort to bring more diversity to the technology industry.

Ferguson will serve on Alphabet’s audit committee. With his appointment, he receives a $1 million equity grant, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

He joins the board as Alphabet under finance chief Ruth Porat brings greater spending discipline to the Internet giant known for its speculative “moonshot” projects such as self-driving cars and research into aging.

As president and CEO of financial services giant TIAA, Ferguson manages the retirement investments for university professors and employees from a variety of educational, medical, government and cultural institutions. Prior to TIAA, Ferguson was head of financial services for insurance company Swiss Re. He sat on the governing board of the Federal Reserve from 1997 to 2006, and for seven years was its vice chairman, the first African American in that position.

“He has a long record of distinguished and thoughtful service in the private and public sectors, and deeply understands how technology can improve the lives of people around the world,” Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt said in a statement.

Two years ago, Google publicly addressed the gender and racial imbalance in the tech industry at large for the first time by disclosing the demographics of its workforce. At Google, seven out of 10 employees are men. Most employees are white (60%) and Asian (31%). Latinos make up 3% of the work force, African Americans 2%.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the tech industry lags industry averages in recruiting women and people of color.

Tech companies had more white employees (69%) than the average hired by all firms (64%) and more Asian-Americans (14% vs. 5.8%), according to an EEOC report based on 2014 data filed with the EEOC by private U.S. firms with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more with federal contracts of $50,000 or more.

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Source: USA Today | Jessica Guynn