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Google admits it's got work to do to achieve a diverse workforce

Sharon Gaudin | June 2, 2014
Says its employees are 61% white and 70% male

Google executives say they're not satisfied that the company's workforce is largely made up of white males.

"We've always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google," wrote Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of Google's People Operations, in a blog post.. "We now realize we were wrong, and that it's time to be candid about the issues. Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it's hard to address these kinds of challenges if you're not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts."

With that, the company released its workforce demographics.

Seventy percent of Google's employees are men, Bock noted. The numbers are nearly as dramatic when it comes to race. According to Google, 61% of its employees are white, 30% are Asian, 3% are Hispanic and 2% are black. The company also reported that 4% are two or more races, and 1% are listed under "other."

Google did not offer numbers about the age ranges that make up its workforce.

"There are lots of reasons why technology companies like Google struggle to recruit and retain women and minorities," wrote Bock. "For example, women earn roughly 18% of all computer science degrees in the United States. Blacks and hispanics make up under 10% of U.S. college grads and collect fewer than 5% of degrees in [computer science] majors, respectively. So we've invested a lot of time and energy in education."

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said that doesn't tell the whole story. While saying he's surprised that Google's workforce isn't more diverse, Moorhead noted that U.S. universities may not be producing a large number of female and minority computer science and engineering graduates, Google isn't limiting its hiring to the U.S.

"Google needs to evaluate where they are globally on diversity," he added. "Google has a global business, so it can't just look at the U.S. I'm wondering if their international stats are even worse."

Moorhead said it's not a good picture for any company to paint if it's going after a global -- and diverse -- market.

"It must negatively impact their products," he said. "It's hard to imagine the best products and services coming from a mostly mono-cultural environment."

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, disagreed, saying he doubts Google's lack of diversity is affecting its services.

"Would more diversity make them more successful? Who knows?" Olds said. "But it would certainly help them escape from this particular spotlight, which is something I'm sure they'd love to see. I have the feeling that Google will be making some contributions to groups that encourage young minorities to pursue science and technology educations."


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