Personally, this is a question I ask myself more often than I would like to admit. I can only imagine how often this question comes across for other minorities working in technology or computer-related occupations. To be honest, you do not have to search too hard to start finding answers to this question as the first statistic you come across shows that in 2020 women made up 25% of these occupations and of that, only 2% identified as Latinx/Hispanic.
As we ended class the other night, I kept thinking about what strategies are technology companies’ leveraging to attract and retain top talent. I also thought to myself, have digitally driven companies considered that the demographics of top talent have drastically changed over the last few decades. In addition to these initial thoughts, I wonder if companies have considered that their retention strategies need to take into consideration the needs of minorities to stay with their companies or if their one size fits all strategy will be enough.
Considering that every industry is looking for strategies to address this gap, I turned to Google for more answers. Then I realized why not look into what Google is doing to address this gap, especially since they’ve been in the hot seat before for not having diverse enough teams & perspectives (we all remember the photo algorithm mishap). Additionally, I wanted to understand what strategies they are leveraging to increase the number of individuals from underrepresented groups in their workforce. To my surprise I learned that Google has committed to a lot and that by 2025 they will have:
- Improved leadership representation of underrepresented groups by 30%
- Doubled the number of Black+ Googlers in non-leadership roles in the United States
- Doubled the number of Black+ directors across EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) by 2023
- Grow their presence in cities that contribute to a high quality of life for Black+ Googlers by adding 10,000 jobs in Atlanta, Chicago, New York & Washington D.C.
In July 2021, Google released their 2021 Diversity Annual Report, reporting their progress against these goals, and although 2020 had resulted in some gains, the company is far from reaching its goals. They cited in the annual report five areas of insights and areas of focus for them moving into 2021 – 2022:
- Hiring – Hiring changes drove the best year yet for women in tech globally and Black+ and Latinx+ people in the United States
- Retention – Tailoring or retention efforts is necessary to address the root causes of higher attrition among Black+, Native American + and Latinx+ Googlers
- Racial Equity – Apply a systemic approach to racial equity is necessary to build sustainable change for their Black Googlers & users
- Accessibility & Disability Inclusion – Strengthening their focus on people with disabilities helped them better recruit, hire and build for their community.
- COVID-19 Well-being – Supporting those most impacted by COVID-19 highlighted a universal need for well-being solutions.
At first glance, these insights are not a hot take on trends found in other industries. I will say the insights I found the most interesting were their hiring strategies and retention.
In their Hiring insight, they dive into how they are finding success through efforts in expanding access to hiring opportunities for underrepresented groups in many parts of the world by centering racial equity across their hiring processes. This includes having Googlers train on culture-add and focuses on training like “Inclusive Hiring Steps” to help managers understand their responsibility for building a model that enables future Googlers to thrive. They are also actively building pathways into tech for Black and Latinx communities in the United States by expanding access to STEM opportunities through investments in programs like Code Next which is a free, computer science education program that meets Black, Latinx, and Native high school students in their own communities.
This work is not a one and done. It’s not a tick-box exercise. And there is no silver bullet…We know we’ve made some good progress, but we also know that there is much more work to do.Karina Govindji, Senior Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for EMEA, LATAM and Canada at Google.
As for their insight on Retention, they found that their previous one size fits all approach had left them with room to improve. In order to address this, they implemented new programs and practices like doubling their Retention & Progression team, so every organization has someone dedicated to supporting underrepresented Googlers. They are also listening to what their underrepresented Googler needs and creating new initiatives to directly support them.
The business craves our insights…they’re eager to make change, eager to understand what can we do better.Rachel Spivey, Head of the Retention & Progression Consultant Team at Google
Google has been able to make small meaningful strides in hiring people from underrepresented groups. In the last year, they hired more Black+ and Latinx employees in 2021, increasing each group’s representation to 8.8% from 5.5% and 6.6%, respectively. Although all these changes sound promising and like Google is making the right choices to increase representation, I wonder how much they can move the needle. Is it enough for other companies to take notice and follow in similar footsteps?
As someone who asks themselves ‘Why doesn’t anyone look like me?’ it gives me some hope that industry leaders like Google are prioritizing diversifying their workforce – and not just through hiring efforts but investing and creating sustainable ways for underrepresented groups to have access to computer science education programs.
So who knows, maybe by 2025 I won’t be asking myself that question as often as I do now.