California is Investigating Google for Discrimination Against Black Female Workers

Image: RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Google is under investigation by authorities in California for its treatment of Black women in the workplace, Reuters reports.

California’s civil rights regulator has stepped in to investigate the claims when allegations of harassment and discrimination of Black women surfaced.

Several Black women who have worked at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, were interviewed anonymously for fear of losing their jobs about their claims. At least seven Black women who are currently or formerly employed claimed they were marginalized on work projects and their ideas weren’t seriously considered in comparison to colleagues with different backgrounds.

In a statement, Google responded by saying that it focused on “building sustainable equity” for its Black workers and that 2020 was the company’s largest year for hiring what they described as “Black+” workers, an identifier that includes multi-racial people.

“Our goal is to ensure that every employee experiences Google as an inclusive workplace,” the statement read. “We’ll continue to focus on this important work and thoroughly investigate any concerns, to make sure our workplace is representative and equitable.”

According to the report, several executives have left the company citing a culture of devaluing Black women. Among them is Timnit Gebru, an artificial intelligence researcher who was fired by Google a year ago for criticizing the company’s lack of diversity and for challenging managers who were against her publishing a critical paper that she helped co-write. 

In addition, Erika Munro Kennerly, who led the diversity and strategy teams at Google before her resignation last year, told the Corporate Counsel that “there’s an overall tone of being undervalued” as a Black woman at Google.

According to company data, last year employees who identified as “Black+ female” left Google at the highest rate of any racial-gender group other than “Native American+ female.”

Along with Google, California’s Department of Fair Employment & Housing is currently investigating discrimination claims levied against other tech companies such as Tencent Holdings, Riot Games, and Activision Blizzard Inc.,  for claims of widespread harassment and discrimination

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