Google employee confronts execs over diversity: Many of us feel 'unsafe'

Google employees are speaking up about their concerns with how the company is handling diversity.In an unusual...

Posted: Jun 6, 2018 11:29 PM
Updated: Jun 6, 2018 11:29 PM

Google employees are speaking up about their concerns with how the company is handling diversity.

In an unusual move, Google employees partnered with investors to push a proposal at its parent company's shareholder meeting Wednesday to link executive pay to diversity and inclusion metrics.

"It is our belief as investors, as engineers and as technical professionals that a lack of executive leadership around sustainability, diversity and inclusion fundamentally hurts the quality of products Alphabet can deliver to users," Irene Knapp, a software engineer at Google, said at the shareholder meeting in Mountain View, California.

The proposal, put forth by investment firm Zevin Asset Management and backed by some current employees, was predictably voted down along with all other shareholder proposals. Google's two founders have majority voting control.

But Knapp's remarks offered a window into lingering concerns among some Google staffers about the culture and leadership of a company that is frequently ranked as one of the top places in the world to work.

In addition to highlighting the need for clear metrics to "incentivize long-term progress" on the diversity issue, Knapp also called out a more immediate need to boost the safety and well-being of minority employees.

"The lack of clear, communicated policies and actions to advance diversity and inclusion with concrete accountability and leadership from senior executives has left many of us feeling unsafe and unable to do our work," Knapp said.

"The chilling effect of harassment and doxing has impaired productivity and company culture. Responses from HR have been inadequate leaving minority communities unprotected," Knapp added.

The issue came to the foreground after a former Google employee, James Damore, published a controversial essay internally about diversity that set off an uproar among employees and later the general public. Damore was fired after his memo went viral.

Some Google employees who asked questions about the memo internally later had their comments and identities leaked elsewhere online, exposing them to harassment and threats.

Related: Google says it will not renew controversial Pentagon contract

"Now we are forced to weigh the risks to ourselves before giving each other support. This backwards response is tied to immediate retention issues," Knapp said.

Knapp called for the company to crack down on "malicious leaks" and to publish a manual "formalizing the procedures for HR investigations."

Other Google employees supported the shareholder proposal in person at the meeting and online.

It's just the latest example of Google employees openly clashing with the company. Last week, Google said it would not renew a controversial contract with the Defense Department after facing pushback from employees.

"Technology can be a tremendously positive force, but it also raises important questions about how we should apply it in the world," Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, said at the shareholder meeting. "We are asking ourselves all those questions."

While Google's executives did not directly address Knapp's remarks on Wednesday, they did restate their commitment to diversity.

"We have a stated objective in the company to have representation of blacks and Hispanics in the US and an improvement of representation of women reach market supply by 2020," Eileen Naughton, Google's VP of People Operations, said in response to a different shareholder question.

John L. Hennessy, the recently appointed chairman of Alphabet's board, said the company is committed to considering minority candidates for every new board position. Facebook and Amazon made similar public commitments last month.

All but two of Alphabet's 11 board members are men. Google's most recent diversity report, from June of last year, showed the tech giant overwhelmingly employs white men, with 69% of its workforce being male and 56% of its workforce being white.

The shareholder meeting takes place at a sensitive time for Google. Like other tech companies, it has faced greater consumer and regulatory scrutiny over privacy and its perceived market dominance.

"Facebook's recent data scandals should be a warning to all Alphabet shareholders as well," Abigail Shaw, with NorthStar Asset Management, said at the meeting introducing a proposal to about Alphabet's corporate governance.

"Alphabet shareholders need to heed the warning that poor governance can, and likely will, result in an eventual downturn in shareholder value," she said.

West Lafayette
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 74°
Kokomo
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Rensselaer
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
Fowler
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Williamsport
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Crawfordsville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 68°
Frankfort
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 75°
Delphi
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Monticello
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Logansport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events