A hot potato: Google has denied a report that claims it rolled back its diversity and inclusion initiatives to appear less anti-conservative. Several Google employees and people who recently left the company made the claims, adding that the team responsible for the programs has been reduced in size.
Yesterday, NBC reported that a number of Google workers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they believed the reason the company was cutting its diversity programs was to protect it from criticism from conservatives.
Google did confirm that one popular diversity training program, called Sojourn, had been cut back in 2018. “One of the major motivations for cutting Sojourn is that the company doesn’t want to be seen as anti-conservative,” one Google employee familiar with the company’s diversity programming said in an interview. “It does not want to invite lawsuits or claims by right-wing white employees about Google discriminating against them.”
Google claimed it ended Sojourn as it was too difficult to scale globally since it was focused on issues of racism in the US.
The sources say other diversity training programs have also been cut, the teams behind them reduced in size, and their positions outsourced or not refilled after employees left.
In a statement to Digital Trends, Google said: “Any suggestion that we have scaled back or cut our diversity efforts is false. Diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a company-wide commitment and our programs have scaled up to match the pace of Google’s growth.”
Google has faced backlash over its perceived anti-conservative views in the past. Back in 2017, James Damore, a senior software engineer at the firm, wrote a 10-page manifesto called “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” which blamed biological factors for the lack of women in tech. He was fired for writing the memo and later sued Google for allegedly discriminating against white, conservative males whose views contrast those of Google execs.
Damore and three other men asked a court to dismiss their suit against Google last week. His lawyer said the lawsuit has brought about workplace rules designed to protect employees with alternative viewpoints and prevent bullying.
In 2019, Google hiring stats showed 43.9% Asian, 48.5% white, and 66.8% men, while in 2020, they were 48.5% Asian, 43.1% white, and 67.5% men.