Google Pledges to Focus Diversity Efforts on Black and Hispanic Women

Google is pledging to focus diversity efforts on its least represented demographic: black and Hispanic women.

The announcement comes as the Internet giant’s annual diversity report shows that women of color significantly trail their male counterparts of the same ethnicity in the Internet giant’s U.S. workforce.

Executives, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, plan to make women of color an “intentional focus” of the company’s diversity efforts, says Google’s diversity chief Danielle Brown.

The sharpest deficits in Silicon Valley are African-American and Hispanic women, who make up 1% or fewer of workers. Women of color are represented across other industries at much higher rates consistent with their proportion of the overall U.S. population, suggesting the technology industry is having trouble reversing decades of hiring patterns.

Four years after it published its first diversity report, Google is still struggling to hire and retain underrepresented minorities despite repeated promises to make its workforce reflect the billions of people it serves around the globe.

Not only are Blacks, Hispanics and Latinos being hired at lower rates, they are leaving at higher rates than other employees, according to the company’s diversity report released Thursday.

Out of the nearly 56,000 people Google employed in the U.S. in 2017, 544 were black women, up from 348 in 2016. During that same time period, Google employed 799 black men, according to the most recent documents Google filed with the federal government. African Americans account for 2.5% of the U.S. workforce.

Hispanic women and Latinas numbered 945 in 2017, up from 566 in 2016. That’s about half the number of Hispanic men and Latinos employed by Google in the U.S. during that time frame. Google says its employees are 3.6% Hispanic and Latino. Its U.S. workforce in 2017 was 53.1% white, 36.3% Asian and 30.9% female.

While efforts to bring aboard more black and Hispanic women have floundered, Google has made strides in hiring and retaining other women and it reported gains in diversifying its leadership ranks, with the percentage of women leaders at Google reaching 25.5%, up 4.7 percentage points since 2014.

“We have seen gains for white and Asian women so we know the work that we need to center on and focus on is around women of color,” Brown said in an interview.

Pressure has increased as Google faces a revolt from some employees who’ve criticized the company for failing to make diversity a priority and for failing to create a corporate culture that represents and welcomes minorities and others from underrepresented groups.

Staffers, who spoke publicly on Google’s shortcomings on diversity last week at parent company Alphabet’s shareholder meeting, told USA TODAY Google treats diversity and inclusion as an afterthought.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Jessica Guynn