What is Google Doing to Black Employees?
Is Google hiring Black employees to employ them to their full potential? Or is Google just playing the game to make their diversity culture seem legit? We have, on many occasions, praised Google for their efforts at increasing diversity within its corporate structure. In the past OnTechStreet has highlighted such efforts as Google’s Black Founder’s Fund, its recognition of black employees and in 2017 Google partnered with Howard University to bring black students to Silicon Valley for internships and jobs. And there is a lot more.
But is Google really interested in diversity and inclusiveness? Many would say yes with the evidence to back it up. But is there more to the story? According to April Curley all is not as it seems at Google. Curley was hired in 2014 to recruit Black candidates to Google. But in her lawsuit, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, Curley alleges she was unlawfully fired in 2020 after she began speaking out and “called for reform of the barriers and double standards Google imposed on Black employees and applicants.”
In the complaint Curley states that; “Pursuant to its strong, racially biased corporate culture, Google is engaged in a pattern and practice of race discrimination against its African-American employees. Google’s centralized leadership, which is nearly devoid of Black representation, holds biased and stereotypical views about the abilities and potential of Black professionals.” The lawsuit alleges Black employees are underpaid, less likely to advance and frequently leave the company.
Curley’s lawsuit is seeking class action status and reflects years of complaints by Black employees at Google. Among them is prominent artificial intelligence scholar Timnit Gebru, who claims she was forced from her job in 2020 after a dispute over a research paper examining the societal dangers of an emerging branch of artificial intelligence. Gebru said she was fired but Google claimed she resigned. More than 1,200 Google employees signed on to an open letter calling the incident “unprecedented research censorship” and faulting the company for racism and defensiveness.
So which is true? Google, like many tech companies, are big on building a diverse and inclusive workplace. Sadly this effort is not yielding the results many had hoped for. According to reports the make up of the sector is still pretty much the same as it was six years ago.
Curley’s lawsuit accuses Google of looking upon Black job candidates “through harmful racial stereotypes” claiming that hiring managers deemed Black candidates ‘not Googly’ enough, a plain dog whistle for race discrimination.”
The lawsuit also alleges that interviewers “hazed” and undermined Black candidates and hired Black candidates for lower-paying jobs with few advancement opportunities based on their race and racial stereotypes. According to Curley and others Black employees were often “pigeon-holed into dead-end jobs.” The real irony of the statement is that Curley was hired specifically to recruit African-Americans and people of color for Google.
In the lawsuit Curley states that Google wanted her to “quietly put on a good face for the company and toe the company line.” Curley, on the other hand, became a champion for Black employees and Black students who “vocally opposed and called for reform of the barriers and double standards Google imposed on Black employees and applicants.”
In response, the complaint says, Google “unlawfully marginalized, undermined, and ultimately terminated” Curley.