American search engine giant Google, owned by Alphabet, announced its decision to evaluate the performance of its executives (vice presidents and above) on team diversity and inclusion from this year.
The latest move is one of the several responses to concerns about its treatment of a scientist if color in the company. Timnit Gebru, co-leader of Google’s ethical artificial intelligence (AI) research team, said in December that Google abruptly fired her after she criticized its diversity efforts and threatened to resign.
Alphabet and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai ordered a review of the situation. While Google declined to share specific findings, the company announced that it will engage human resources specialists during sensitive employee departures.
Mr. Pichai in June said that by 2025, Google aims to have 30 percent more of its leaders come from underrepresented groups, with a focus on Black, Latinx (Latin American) and Native American leaders in the United States and female technical leaders globally. About 96 percent of Google’s US leaders at the time were white or Asian, and 73 percent globally were men.
As a result of the investigation, the company also expanded a commitment announced in June to devote more resources to retaining and promoting existing employees by expanding a team addressing disputes among workers and their managers.
For years Alphabet had rejected proposals from shareholders and employees to set diversity goals and tie executive pay to them.
Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who advocated for one such proposal at a 2018 shareholder meeting, said, “I am pleased that they met our demand from 2018, which was a bare minimum that should have been easy to do immediately.”
Evaluating managers based on diversity goals is becoming more common. American fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s also recently linked executive bonuses to diversity.