Google searches for a more diverse workforce
White men can’t jump. But somehow they’ve managed to hop their way to the front of the recruitment queue at Google.
Those who insist that some generalisations are true were given substantial fuel for their argument last week, when the US tech company provided figures detailing its 50,000-strong workforce’s gender and ethnicity.
The technology industry has long been stereotyped as a haven for white guys, and Google’s staff breakdown has done nothing to dismantle that notion.
Google is a man’s world
In the US, six out of ten ‘Googlers’ are white and three out of ten are Asian. Just three per cent are Hispanic and two per cent are black. ‘We’re not where we want to be when it comes to diversity,’ said Google, adding that it decided to publish the figures in order to fully address the issue.
Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, said: ‘We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realise we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. We’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be – and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution.’
Google isn’t the only tech behemoth in the firing line over its hiring line – Apple, Twitter and Amazon have all been criticised lately for a lack of women or people from ethnic minorities in high positions.
And its new approach of openness could lead to a rethink of the way the technology industry views itself. While many have criticised the details in Google’s figures, there has been praise for its decision to publish them, and it is hoped other companies – in the tech world and beyond – will follow its lead.
Earlier this year, business secretary Vince Cable accused Britain’s top companies of neglecting racial diversity.
Kerr welcomed, campaign director for race for Opportunity said that Google’s publication of its figures last week was a breakthrough, but said companies in Britain – and not just those in the tech industry – have a long way to go.
She said transparency lets employers scrutinise their recruitment process and expects Google to continue in this vein, perhaps releasing its workforce figures each year.
‘Others have to follow suit,’ she added. ‘UKPLC is not transparent. We don’t even know what’s going on with most of our employers.’
Kerr said the workplace should reflect recent changes in Britain’s population. Businesses who do not diversify will find themselves lagging behind, she said.
‘We want economic prosperity so we need everybody who can be part of the workforce. We want to operate globally, we want to encourage international trade, where many of our diverse communities have footprints. Going international and turning up with an all-white male team is probably not the wisest way to go if you’re trying to reach into Africa or different parts of Asia. Let’s get our workplaces in step with the changing marketplace.’