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HR Chief: Google Sexual, Racial Diversity "Not Where We Want to Be" 593

Posted by timothy
from the what-factors-go-into-it dept.
theodp (442580) writes "In 2007, Congress asked Google, "How many [Google employees] are African-American?" "I don't actually have that data at my fingertips," replied Google HR Chief Laszlo Bock. Seven years later, Google finally disclosed diversity data for the first time ever, revealing that 17% of its tech workforce is female, and only 1% is Black. "Put simply," wrote Google's Bock, "Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity." To put things in perspective, it looks like the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers — commemorated in last year's Google Doodle of Jackie Robinson — put up better Black diversity numbers than Google was able to muster 67 years later. Things could have been worse, but the EEOC doesn't ask for and Google chose not to disclose anything about the age makeup of its workforce, aside from a mention of the existence of Greyglers, a group "for Googlers 'of a certain age.'""
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HR Chief: Google Sexual, Racial Diversity "Not Where We Want to Be"

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  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:50PM (#47136251)
    I'd like to see figures regarding the available labor pool. Google's workforce is 17% female. What percentage of job applicants at Google were female? Google's workforce is 1% black. What percentage of applicants were black?

    Also - what percentage of Google's workforce are of Indian descent? What percentage of applicants have been Indian? Here in the US, people of Indian descent would certainly be considered members of an ethnic minority, a large number them (even a disproportionate number, perhaps?) being professionals in the IT field. I suspect that Google's workforce is representative of the qualified candidate pool from which they can hire.

  • Re:Who gives a shit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:50PM (#47136253)

    > What happened to hiring the best person for the job?

    One of the qualifications for the job is perspective. Google's own stats show that more diverse teams perform at higher levels.

    "What we have seen internally is teams that are diverse, not just in skin color and gender, but in terms of sexual orientation, in any kind of way you want to look at it, in terms of belief system, they come up with better ideas. They do more interesting things.

    There’s interesting research out of MIT that actually looked at the relationship between productivity of teams that are homogeneous and ones where you mix in women. And what they found was that, as you increase the proportion of diversity, teams get more and more and more productive."

    --- http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/googles-diversity-record-shows-women-minorities-left-behind/

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:09PM (#47136405)

    It's true, but it's also just part of the way the world works. It's not just Silicon Valley. The big difference there is that Smart People have far more of a chance of first succeeding because software is "hard", and requires smart people in the first place to do anything useful.

    1. By definition, most of the population is not-so-smart. (Please note, this does NOT mean smart people are better than everyone else, just smarter)

    2. It takes smart people, and often times a particular kind of smart person to distinguish the smart people from the not-so-smart, but overly confident people.

    3. People are heavily biased towards confident people. Confidence everyone can recognize. (as evidenced by the rise of Sara Palin, who has no business being confident, but yet was/is beloved by a certain segment of the populace).

    4. There's an inverse relationship between skill and confidence. The more skillful people become, the less confident they are. (Primarly because they realize how much they really don't know).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

    So given the above, it's a natural tendency as a company grows that it'll start to get filled with people who aren't quite as smart as the founders. It's really inevitable at a certain point of growth because you'll just need more people, and a larger percentage of them will be not-so-smart. They'll start promoting the confident, but less skilled people because of point 2 and 3. This will create a feedback loop (less smart promotes even less smart people), and eventually the company is filled with morons who coast on the success of others. (i.e. Microsoft).

  • by sg_oneill (159032) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:10PM (#47136415)

    When Google says "Not Where We Want to Be" , what they are saying is that it is time to start discriminating against white males

    I will never understand how some peoples brains hear "Must discriminate against white people!" whenever someone says "Must not discriminate against black people".

    Seriously, this white separatist thinking eally needs to die.

  • Re:Who gives a shit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:13PM (#47136453)

    Are you saying that all White males are assholes without decent social skills? That sounds racist.

    Not really - he's also applying it to East and South Asian males.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:17PM (#47136479)

    As a computer engineering student, after five years of the program I've had exactly three black classmates. All three described being ridiculed and physically beaten by their black peers for being 'nerdy' and being into science and math. All three had friends with similar interests that gave them up due to peer pressure.

    In high school I frequently recall black and Latino students who were literally afraid to turn in homework in front of their peers. They'd wait for the hoodlum kids to leave first and turn in papers with a whispered apology to the teacher. This happened all the way from 8th grade to 12th grade. I've seen kids get beaten up after a teacher announced they got the highest score on a test (this was back in the 90s when you could still single out students for their accomplishments).

    So what is the problem here? A culture that equates educational success with selling out or otherwise punishes people for excelling. It's the same culture that called Bill Cosby a sell-out because he want from a teen in the projects to a millionaire with a Ph.D, despite his life-long efforts to help his own people and encourage education and success. This is a culture associated with poor people of ANY ethnicity, including whites. Believe me I've seen enough pot-smoking tatted up white trash hitting their children to know we can do it too.

    BTW my campus is one of the most diverse in California, and whites are the minority, with Latino students in the middle and the majority is Indian and Asian, mostly Chinese. So diversity and support of non-white students is definitely not an issue. We have tons of black students too, just not going into the hard sciences.

    So let's not talk about "Google needs to hire N amount of black employees" and say "How do we reach out to the black community and remove the stigma on educational success". THAT is the issue.

  • by eclectro (227083) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:25PM (#47136551)

    Sorry for being cynical, but they may be trying to take the eyes off an even worse number.

    The major thing they left out of their diversity statistics is how many people are over the age of 40. It's pretty clear that ageism is pervasive in the tech sector - and the internet. Last time I mentioned this, there was a serious sneer response to my post saying that "old people" (i.e. people over 40) should be discriminated against, "because they have issues."

    There you have it slashdot. You had better be looking over your shoulder! You aren't getting any younger!

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:42PM (#47136695) Homepage

    Which brings up a good question, should we?

    Should we reach out of Asians and tell them to be less focused on academic success so that they get similar results to whites?
    Should we tell than them that the Violin matters less than they think and some of their kids should be learning to play the drums, or just have more time to play video games or watch TV?

    Is the exact right amount of interest in academia the While Male Standard, and all other numbers and styles inferior for one reason or another?

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @02:28PM (#47136947)

    The real problem is that most of the pressure against impoverished children comes from the culture around them, not the cultures beyond them.

    The poor people who are biased against poor people who try to succeed are the root cause of this cultural problem. Like crabs in a bucket, they keep pulling each other down. There's no need for any external bias explanation, when internal biases more than suffice for the observations.

    No amount of funding of poor schools is going to change the culture of the people attending them - that responsibility lies with the people who are part of that culture, either to reform the culture, or to firmly reject it.

    As an example of this, take immigrant asians who pressure their children into taking on the trappings of proper english, strong academics, and "mainstream" culture - they may never lose their accent, or ever be as fluent in english as their children, but they have the expectation that their children will adopt a culture of success. There is no reason why a gangsta thug can't insist that their children speak proper english, do well in school, and succeed, even if they're never able to make that change themselves.

  • Re:racism matters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chihowa (366380) * on Saturday May 31, 2014 @02:59PM (#47137097)

    It's people who think like you who will forever keep us from addressing these problems.

    Race is not tied to culture, and criticizing a dysfunctional culture is not racist, bigoted, or an action to be shamed. Your need to tie the self-destructive culture that is held by some urban people (of all races) to a specific race, and imply that they are unable to change their culture, is what is racist.

    Thug gangsta culture is not a productive and viable culture, regardless of the color of the practitioner's skin. My saying that is not racist, but your implying that thug culture is an intrinsic part of being black is racist. We get to call out dysfunctional cultures and your attempts to make everything about race and shut down the conversation only make the world an uglier place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2014 @03:01PM (#47137103)

    The cool thing about the fucking PRIVILEGE boogeyman is that it can only be applied to a group, but is routinely used to punish individuals.

    Aren't there terms that describe this sort of behavior? Oh that's right judging individuals based on group stereotypes is routinely called racism, sexism, etc.

    With all due respect FUCK YOUR WHINING ABOUT PRIVILEGE!!

  • WRONG! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @05:05PM (#47137733)
    They're right where they want to be actually. They're at "who cares about race and gender, hire the most qualified person and fire them if they don't do their job well enough." That's the polar opposite of racism. Hiring a few people from certain groups to look better from the outside is the most racist thing they could possibly do. If they were hiring only white males and ignoring talented black females for example, they'd be doing as well as Oracle or Blackberry. But they're not! They're doing Google-well at the moment so that means the people working there are the best people who should be working there.
  • Re:Who gives a shit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @05:54PM (#47137993)

    One of the qualifications for the job is perspective. Google's own stats show that more diverse teams perform at higher levels.

    I think the question is whether this diversity-related increase in performance (which I find quite spurious) outweighs the drop in performance you suffer by having to relax the hiring criteria.

  • Re:Who gives a shit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrxak (727974) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @06:09PM (#47138081)

    Rolls off our backs like water? Men are overwhelmingly the victims of violence and murder. We practically celebrate the prison rape of men in this culture, and certainly don't do anything to stop it. When a young boy is molested or raped by a woman, we blame the victim for "wanting it" and the press talks about how hot she is and how lucky he is. Female health issues like breast cancer research are much better funded and publicized than male health issues like prostate cancer. Men are overwhelmingly the casualties of war.

    Women are graduating from college in greater numbers than men. It's a shame that even with their advantages, few can be bothered to get a degree in computer science. But whose fault is that really? In high school there was a single girl in my AP computer science class. In college, my first computer science class had three women. By the second computer science class, there was one. I never saw another after that.

    If you want a job in an industry, you have to show up and get qualified for it. I hear a lot of pro diversity folks lamenting about how there's not enough diversity, well either there's something about females that makes them disinclined to go into certain fields and we should accept that, or something wrong is happening long, long before Google starts a round of hiring.

    Is it that little girls are being discouraged from trying math and science at an early age? If that's true, then blame the overwhelming majority of elementary school teachers who are female. One platform issue of early feminism was to take over society's early educational systems. The plan worked brilliantly. Male teachers are now discriminated against teaching any students younger than middle school, and the result has been lower academic performance and achievement by male students, and the now majority of college degrees going to women. But still, girls aren't going into science and math. So that can't be it...

    Maybe, the answer is really as obvious as it is to anyone who has actually been in a classroom studying technical subjects like computer science. Women just don't care to be in those jobs. Maybe that's a bad thing, maybe it's a neutral thing, maybe it's a good thing? Certainly plenty of companies have been successful advancing our computer technology without a large number of female employees. Maybe we should just shrug and worry about more important issues, like violence?

  • by Brenky (878669) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @07:35PM (#47138399) Homepage Journal
    The increasingly prevalent attitude of "rah rah rah get women into tech!!! DIVERSITY RULEZ!" is absolutely ridiculous. I am a female in IT. I think computers are cool and fun and interesting, and you know what? I decided all of that on my own. Let people decide what they want to do, don't make women and minorities your pet project to see how many of us you can coerce into being interested in science and technology. If the majority of girls would rather do something else with their lives than stare at a computer screen all day, then let them.

    Who cares if a small percentage of the IT workforce is women? I sincerely doubt that a 50/50 split of men and women are applying for these jobs. Now, if the percentage of male/female applicants WAS 50/50, then something would definitely be wrong. I'd be interested to see data on that.

    For the record, I realize I may be privileged (and I cringe using that term, to be honest). I'm reading back on some comments about students getting picked on for taking an interested in science and technology, and that never happened to me. Even though I was pretty much always the only girl in my tech-related endeavours, I was never picked on for it (I was picked on for other things though, but I'm sure it would have still happened even if I liked more "traditionally female" things).

    That being said, even if there wasn't a perceived stigma attached to those interests, I doubt the numbers would be much higher.

  • Re:Who gives a shit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by greenbird (859670) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @10:08PM (#47138995)

    You decided to start WW I and WW II.

    Hmmm...guessing in your part of the world the Japanese started WWII. And we all know the Japanese were a paragon of racial harmony especially back then. Even the European part that started much later was primarily an effort to fight against an obscenely racist power. By no means were the Western Powers perfect but they're better than most of the alternatives. Think the British were bad? Try to picture India ruled by Hitler's Germany and Hirohito's Japan.

    In my home country, we are still suffering from the British culture of rape.

    If you're from India as I'm guessing, why is it the culture of rape legacy your country suffers from involves the high casts raping the lower casts? The Dalit existed long before the British arrived.

  • Re:Who gives a shit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlad30 (44644) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:17AM (#47140245)
    Blame the parents and their classmates in school. My 6 year old Daughter does have her Barbies and doll house she also has meccano, blocks, lego, working solar system models, microscope, go kart etc these items she has already learned not to talk about at school because they are not girl toys. So girls are conditioned from an early age to stick to girly subjects. I encourage my girls to do more of the boy things and make it quite clear that they can do anything unfortunately I dont see many parents doing the same

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