Google’s latest diversity report shows jump in departures among women of color

Google’s latest diversity report shows that despite some gains in the number of Black employees, the company is lagging in its goal to double the number of Black workers by 2025. And the search giant is having particular difficulty retaining women of color, the report released Thursday (pdf) shows.

Google uses a scale it calls an attrition index, with the number 100 used as a benchmark. The attrition figure for Black women on that index rose from 110 in 2020 to 146 in 2021, the report shows. Among Native American women the attrition index was up to 148 in 2021, compared to 123 in 2020. The 2021 attrition figures also were higher for Asian men and women and for Latinx men, the report showed.

“We recognize the platform that we have and the brand position that we have and we know that there are other companies that are watching us and looking at us,” Google chief diversity officer Melonie Parker said in a video that accompanied the report. “And we want to make sure that we don’t just show our successes, but that we show the areas that we need to get better as well.”

The company made some progress in its representation and diversity goals, doubling the number of Black employees hired to its US leadership team to 7.1 percent from 3.6 percent the year prior, and the number of women in Google leadership around the world rose from 26.7 percent to 28.1 percent. Still, Google’s US workforce is 68 percent male and 32 percent female, the report shows. Fifty percent of Google’s US workforce is white, compared to 42 percent Asian, 6.4 percent Latinx, 4.4 percent Black, and 0.8 percent Native American.

And Google faced a slew of criticism late last year and earlier this year, for how it handled the firing of Black AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru after she wrote a paper that questioned the dangers of large language models. Gebru accused Google of racism and retaliation, and faced online harassment for months afterward.

In October, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post that the company planned to double the number of Black employees by 2025 and increase the number of underrepresented workers in senior positions by 30 percent. “We’ll hold ourselves accountable for creating an inclusive workplace,” Pichai wrote.

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