Amid reports that Google has reduced diversity and inclusion training programmes fearing conservative backlash, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai, has denied any digression from the company’s commitment to promoting diversity within the organisation. In an interview to The Verge, Pichai said the company probably has more resources invested in diversity now than ever.
“Diversity is a foundational value for us. Given the scale at which we build products and the fact we do it locally for our users, we are deeply committed to having that representation in our workforce,” Pichai was quoted as saying.
Pichai’s response came after NBC News, citing former and current Google employees, last week reported that one well-liked diversity training programme at the company, called Sojourn, was cut entirely.
The report also said that Google has reduced internal diversity and inclusion training programmes since 2018. Google denied the allegation that it has scaled back inclusion and diversity efforts.
But the report led 10 US lawmakers to send a letter to Pichai this week demanding answers to several questions, including why previous diversity programmes were scaled back or cut entirely, what type of diversity initiative is offered to new hires, how Google plans to address lack of diversity and inclusion at the company and whether employees working on Artificial Intelligence undergo additional bias training.
“It is troublesome to hear that Google, an industry leader, plans to scale back efforts to address their lack of diversity when you have previously stated a corporate commitment to improve in this very area,” the House Democrats said in the letter on Monday.
“In 2019, according to Google’s own diversity report, only 3.3 per cent of your workforce identifies as Black, 5.7 per cent are Latins, .08 per cent are Native American, and 31.6 per cent are women. In order to promote effective and inclusive economic practices, Google’s workforce should reflect the racial diversity of America,” wrote the lawmakers who are members of the House Tech Accountability Caucus.
However, conservative politicians have accused US tech giants of being biased against conservative viewpoints.
Google was even threatened with penalties for allegedly making “anti-conservative” moderation decisions on platforms like YouTube, The Verge reported.