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

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:40PM (#47136195)

    What happened to hiring the best person for the job?

    The whole "there aren't enough females in the tech industry" seems like a manufactured issue to me. What exactly is the problem? How is it a problem? Etc.

    • 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."


      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        more diverse teams perform at higher levels

        Maybe at Google.
        My anecdotal evidence at the university shows that teams of white people did better.
        Of course this was mostly because all the white people came from a similar culture and actually understood each other, whereas all the other teams were just the people who couldn't get a team and were thrown into a group.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @02:12PM (#47136845)

        You said "Google's own stats", but then supported it with a subjective anecdotal statement from Google.

      • by poity ( 465672 )

        Does that happen because open-minded people will tend to form more inclusive groups AND perform better, or because switching up sexual orientation and skin color makes people perform better? That is, do inclusiveness and higher performance merely coincide together with the third variable of open-mindedness, or does inclusiveness itself trigger higher performance?

      • 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.

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @06:41PM (#47138229)

        that makes no sense whatsoever when the politically correct premise is that attributes like race, sex and orientation aren't supposed to be relevant to job skillset. I wonder if the study was biased in order to promote more affirmative action.

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:51PM (#47136259)
      It doesn't matter if they're male or female, it only matters if they have an H1B visa.
    • white males should (Score:4, Insightful)

      by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:03PM (#47136361)

      When Google says "Not Where We Want to Be" , what they are saying is that it is time to start discriminating against white males and hire other less qualified candidates because some groups are getting uppidy. We never hear similar claims of needing "more diversity" from the NBA or the National Felons League, but when we find an area where white males excel by working hard, it is time to put a stop to it.

    • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:07PM (#47136383) Homepage Journal

      What happened to hiring the best person for the job?

      I totally agree. Companies should always want the best man for the job, regardless of gender.

    • Seriously can we please stop manufacturing issues that are non issues? The best person/robot should be given the job. be it white black asian purple or bender

      People wanted equality, as such we need to treat everyone equal and stop trying to fit quotas based on the features...that the people dont want to be treated differently for!
    • by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:51PM (#47136735)

      Applying general demographics to a targeted job applicant pool is very misleading anyway. We can't expect Google to hire 51% females when females only make up 13.4% of CS undergraduates [].

      And what if they do? That means, naturally, that they took more than their fair share of female applicants and now there exist fewer female applicants for other companies to choose from. And then we get articles like this, except moaning that Apple now has fewer females than they should.

    • Maybe it's a problem because when some female high school student is making a decision on what career field to go into, she might just pass up anything in the tech industry because of statistics like these.
    • What happened to hiring the best person for the job?

      The problem with that is if you are Jessie Jackson and the best people for the job are Asian and not black, you will look like a fool. Rather than trying to get your race to pull up its pants and go to school [], you want free handouts while the Asians are working their asses off for those Google jobs.

      It is really sad that 1% of their workforce is black. That tells me that Bill Cosby said it right: it is a cultural problem and he is right to be ashamed of it.

  • Asians != Diverse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:43PM (#47136211)

    Gotta love when 30% of the non-white asians don't count whatsoever into the diversity formula for these nitwits. Does anyone know what the correct mix should be btw?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Diversity is affirmative action. It has no inherent value. We are trained to mouth words that it does because affirmative action has had trouble in courts in recent decades. So everyone goes through the motions that it is of vital importance.

      • by qwak23 ( 1862090 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @04:58PM (#47137707)

        Diversity is not synonymous with Affirmative action. Hiring a woman just to say you hired a woman is Affirmative Action. Hiring a woman to gain the experiences and perspectives that she has is diversity. This doesn't necessarily apply to the obvious physical indicators such as black, woman, asian, etc. I'm a white male, but I can guarantee you that I have more in common with a black male from upstate New York than I do with a white male from Mississippi, and that black male from upstate New York has even less in common with a black male from Africa than he does with myself and the white male from Mississippi. Diversity is about recognizing this and using it to build a stronger team. The downside is that in promoting diversity people often focus on physical characteristics as being the only aspect of diversity, when those are really only indicators. I once asked a group of new employees if they felt they were a diverse group, and they said "no" because there was only one black person in the group (and all were male). Yet each one had a different religion, some had no religion, they were all from different parts of the country and each one had a different professional experience level. Granted, a racist, sexist or other bigot could probably twist the above to justify only hiring from their preferred demographic, others will recognize that pushing for greater diversity in the workplace, especially for companies which serve areas larger than a small town, can strengthen their business. A diverse marketing team will do a better job of marketing to a variety of markets than a homogenous one would. A diverse design team can leverage their cultural differences in the appearance and interface of their products. Similar statements could be made for engineering teams, sales teams, research teams, etc.

        As has been said elsewhere, if your companies demographics don't match the general population that doesn't necessarily mean your workplace isn't diverse, though it may indicate social problems somewhere in the chain between hiring and grade school. Maybe your hiring practices are biased. Maybe the demographics of your applicant pool don't match that of the general population. Maybe that is because universities are biased, maybe only a certain demographic is actually applying to those university programs. Maybe that is because of problems in high schools or earlier, are teachers pushing students based on their race/gender/preference/etc? Are parents? Is the media? Is income a factor?

        Just because the dialogue surrounding a topic is politically charged doesn't mean there isn't value to it.

    • I remember seeing an article in the Mercury News with a headline to the effect of "whites still far outnumber blacks at Cal." It included a pie of the different races, roughly half of which were Asian.
  • What quota (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    We’re not where we want to be when it comes to diversity. And it is hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.

    All of our efforts, including going public with these numbers, are designed to help us recruit and develop the world’s most talented and diverse people.

    So.. where does Google really want to be? Do they have a defined quota? How soon will such affirmative action be used against them by white males and asian males?

  • by kiloechonovember ( 1704288 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:45PM (#47136215)
    I'd go into a long tirade on the subject so I'll sum it up that you either understand the argument or you're just wanting a Utopia at the cost of someone else who is the right choice for that company.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm a boss. There are lots of right people. The right person is someone who can get along with all the OTHER people. Aptitude is not as important as attitude. Yours is kind of selfish and cynical. I'd hire a woman over you. She's more likely to be a team player. It's a stereotype, but....

      I don't think I can stress this enough. For the vast majority of positions, there are plenty of people who can do the job I need them to do. There are no rock stars needed. We have rock stars. They cause problems and unne

      • by melchoir55 ( 218842 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @02:19PM (#47136893)

        Have you worked with women? Women are no more team players than men. I've observed women back-stab, gossip, manipulate, ostracize, and generally destroy team dynamics plenty of times (and I've seen men do it too). There are a lot of features which contribute to who would be best for a job. Gender, race, biological sex, none of it is relevant to a job in the tech world. By saying "I'd hire a woman over you" because "she's more likely to be a team player" you are either being inflammatory, or your boss needs to reevaluate your own position as a "boss".

      • I'd hire a woman over you. She's more likely to be a team player.

        You have clearly never actually worked with a woman.

  • It's not just Google,now, is it? Silicon Valley is a strange place, as is much of the programming "computer science" community. It's as uniform as the top of the financial industry. There's this pretense that it's one big meritocracy and, as with all lies, there's a kernel of truth to that. Smart people come up with a new idea and are able to bring in other smart people to implement it. That's the end of the meritocracy story. Then comes the larger part of the cycle. Not-very-smart people -- but peopl

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

      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). []

      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).

  • Legitimized racism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ostrich25 ( 544788 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:45PM (#47136223)
    The very question is racist. Why does it matter how many of a certain color there are? If I get hired for a job, I want it to be because I was the right fit for the job, not because my skin was the appropriate color to meet some quota.
  • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:45PM (#47136227)

    ...culture does.

    If the wrong skin colors are coming into Google, look towards the *cultures* of the people who don't make it, rather than the skin color. Backwards urban cultures (where sadly most self-identified blacks and latinos live), are anti-intellectual and actively discourage those who try to make it out through education by shaming them as not being "real".

    So, the question is, should Google be in charge of destroying thug gansgsta culture, and forcing urban youth to speak proper english, work hard in school, treat women with respect, and avoid violent destructive behavior?

    As for men/women, they've got different brains, so you'll get different outcomes. There is no shame in being a man with less empathy than a woman, and no shame in being a woman with more empathy than a man.

    • by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:35PM (#47136633)

      Data seems to back this up. According to a Computing Research Association study in 2010 [], only 13.4% of CS graduates from American universities (that have Ph.D. programs) were female, and only 4.2% were African American. You also have to factor in the demographics of the Mountain View area, where as of 2010 only 2.2% of the population is African American [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:48PM (#47136237)

    80% of NBA players are black, 70% of NFL players are black. Is anyone asking them for more "diversity"? Yeah I thought not.

    And 100% of the top sports leagues are male. Where's the outrage over this lack of sexual diversity?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vellmont ( 569020 )

      >80% of NBA players are black, 70% of NFL players are black. Is anyone asking them for more "diversity"? Yeah I thought not.

      Maybe it's because there's around 500 NBA players, and around 1700 NFL players. For comparison, Google has 50,000 employees.

      So if you're concerned about people having equal access to high paying jobs, who are you going to go after, the NBA or NFL, with a combined 2000 jobs, or Google, with 50,000?

      It's not about "fairness" in each industry or "diversity" (that's really just marketin

  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:49PM (#47136245)

    From the Washington Post's Blog section: Eugene Volokh, On google's employee demographics []

    ... non-Hispanic whites are 61 percent of the Google work force, slightly below the national average. (That average, according to 2006-10 numbers, is 67 percent.) Google is thus less white than the typical American company. White men are probably slightly over-represented; assuming that the 30 percent number it gives for women Google employees worldwide carries over to the U.S. (the article gives no separate number for U.S. women Google employees), white men are 42 percent of the Google work force, and 35 percent of the U.S. work force — not a vast disparity.
    Indeed, if the goal is “reflecting the demographics of the country” as to race... ...Google can only accomplish that by firing well over three-quarters of its Asian employees, and replacing them with blacks and Hispanics (and a few whites, to bring white numbers up from 61 percent to 67 percent).

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) 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.

  • Google has sexist/racist hiring policies....that's the cause of this TFA

    now...I'm not supporting the notion of "quotas" or forcing Google to hire unqualified workers...I"M AGAINST THAT

    I favor **affirmative action**

    Affirmative action in the context of a large corporation means *acknowledging society's inherent inequality* and taking steps to offer ****equal opportunity****

    how does a company like Google take "affirmative action"?

    let's take the Pittsburgh Steeler's super bowl winning head coach Mike Tomlin's h []

  • the EEOC doesn't ask for and Google chose not to disclose anything about the age makeup of its workforce

    Of course not - you didn't think they were actually serious about age discrimination, did you? Besides, everyone under 35 knows that everyone over 35 is not just obsolete, but senile. Except for top management of course ... no, them too, but it's acceptable if you're one of the anointed class.

  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:01PM (#47136335)

    It isn't Google's job to feel guilty for the lack of qualified black tech workers. Universities these days are falling down over themselves trying to be inclusive, promote diversity, etc.; promising black students in technical fields are highly sought after... yet there are almost none of them. I'm in computational physics, not in computer engineering, so it's a slightly different field. However, the university I'm at now is extremely diversity-promoting -- and located in a city that is ~50% black... and there is one black physicist there. She's not African-American, either; she's Ethiopian (and competent as all hell, and headed for industry). At my previous university, there were folks from all around the world: a few Afrikaaners, Dutch, Russians, Germans, Brazilians, French, Chinese, Indians, Native Americans, Koreans, Mexicans, and so on... and no black folks at all. At the physics and astronomy conferences I go to, there are almost no black people. Yes, this is physics, not tech engineering, but I imagine the situation is about the same there.

    For whatever reason, blacks (and especially African-Americans) are underrepresented in the tech sector. This is definitely worth some concern: it could be for innocent reasons, it could be for ones that need to be addressed (having to do with substandard schools in black areas, for instance), but whatever it is it's not Google's problem. By all means, let's make sure tech classes in black schools are up to standard, but it's not Google's job to worry about this.

    Forcing Google at Al Sharpton-point to seek out and hire black folks, regardless of whether they are able to do their jobs well or not, is only going to make things worse, as people will ask "Is that guy over there able to do his job, or is he a quota hire?"

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:12PM (#47136435)

    My team here consists only of white males. Why? Because only white males applied for the jobs.

    If a black, gay, transsexual Jewish woman applies AND displays the necessary skill set, I'll hire her. But certainly not just because she's a black, gay, transsexual Jewish woman.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:14PM (#47136459) Homepage Journal

    We just look for qualified people? Who really cares what color/sex/orientation they are?

    If you end up 'diverse', great, but if not, who cares? ( other than busybodies that operate off entitlements and the government )

  • 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 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 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 Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @04:02PM (#47137407)

    It's going to be one or the other.

    Welfare runs about 18,000 a year.
    Prison runs about 31,000 a year.

    If you won't protect people over 45 from age discrimination (over two decades from retirement and social security) then you are going to end up supporting them on welfare or in prison.

    Age discrimination has grown enormously since 2009 when SCOTUS gutted protection from age discrimination. Many companies now openly require the actual high school graduation date for positions that require advanced degrees. The ONLY reason you need that information is so that you know the age of the candidate. That should be made illegal immediately.

  • 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.

  • by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @07:54PM (#47138459)
    1) How many African Americans apply every year?
    2) How many women apply every year?
    3) How well do either female or African Americans interview?
    4) Can you demonstrate given this information that your ratio of females to males and Caucasians to African Americans makes sense?

    That is a simple way to judge if the work place is being restrictive or fair, you can't hire more women or diversity if they don't apply and if they don't interview well.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.