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Google discriminates in hiring, protestors say

Groups complain that search company refuses to reveal hiring data

Representatives from several minority-rights groups gathered at the Google campus on Feb. 10 to protest what they say is a lack of transparency surrounding the search giant's hiring practices.

The picketers' complaints revolved around two key issues: diversity and the perception among those protesting that Google favors foreign workers over locals.

Leaders and members of the Black Economic Council, the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles and the National Asian American Coalition carried signs and took up a bullhorn to demand that Google publicly disclose data about the ethnic makeup of its employees.

According to several protesters, Google hires disproportionate numbers of men compared to women and far more whites and Indians than any other ethnic group. Furthermore, the protesters complained, the company would rather ship workers on temporary work visas in from overseas -- most commonly from India -- than hire qualified individuals already living in Silicon Valley.

Google representative Jordan Newman said the protestors' criticisms were off base, but would not elaborate on the record beyond a short written statement.

"Our philosophy has always been that a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures means better products for our users," Newman wrote in an official e-mail statement.

Won't release report

The groups involved in the protest say that diversity is a problem throughout Silicon Valley. Collectively the groups have requested that 34 major companies throughout the Bay Area publicize their EEO-1 Reports. Only 12 companies agreed to do so.

Private businesses with 100 employees or more must file these reports annually with the United States' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEO-1 is used by the commission to determine whether a particular business is in compliance with federal equal employment opportunity laws.

Jorge C. Corralejo, chairman and CEO of the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles, said that Google, along with 21 others refused to make their reports public. In the case of Google, Corralejo believes the company is violating its own transparency policies, skirting its legal obligation and flagrantly disregarding its "don't be evil" corporate motto.

In analyzing the data of the 12 companies that agreed to share their EEO-1 information, the three groups reported that all of the forthcoming companies had no more than 4 percent black workers and some had only 1 percent. For Hispanics the number was higher -- between 4 and 9 percent. An analysis of Asian Americans in the obliging companies was not useful, the report concluded, because it was not clear which among them were foreigners and which were U.S. citizens.

The report -- written by statistician Michael Phillips, an expert analyst retained by the three groups -- concluded that "it would be unusual for a non-complying company to have a higher percentage of blacks than the reporting companies," and that when estimating an organization's Hispanic workforce it would be "safe to assume that the non-reporting companies had records at or well below the lowest number of those voluntarily reporting."

Trade secret

Google, the protesters said, has refused to provide its EEO-1 information, calling it a trade secret.

"Ha!" exclaimed Bob Gnaizda, a lawyer who provides counsel for the three organizations. "It's not a trade secret. It's an embarrassment. That's the argument the Chinese government often uses when it hides data."

Intel, Cisco and eBay didn't bring up the issue of secrecy, Gnaizda said. Furthermore, Google recently announced that it would be hiring more than 6,000 new employees in 2011 -- which the lawyer said tells competitors much more than divulging the ethnic makeup of its workforce would.

A national issue

Gnaizda does not dispute the fact that there are a higher number of whites than women and minorities graduating with computer science degrees in America. However, he said, a company with only 1 percent black or 4 percent Hispanic employees does accurately mirror the percentage of those same minorities with computer science degrees in the greater population.

According to the National Science Foundation, in 2008 there were a total of 38,916 people -- men and women of all races -- with a bachelor's degree in computer science living in the U.S. Of those with a computer science degree in 2008:

-There were roughly five times as many men as women.

-Whites (both men and women) accounted for more than half.

-There were 2,923 Hispanics, 4,011 blacks, and 3,133 Asians and Pacific Islanders -- a little less than half the number of total whites.

-There were 1,804 temporary residents.

Even with far fewer minorities holding computer science degrees in the U.S., Gnaizda said, Google is not doing a good enough job in keeping a diverse workforce and is hiring far too many foreign workers from India, which he said is a country with relatively fewer engineers per capita than the United States.

Newman, the Google representative, again disagreed with the conclusions of the Black Economic Council, Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles and the National Asian American Coalition.

"We have an inclusive work environment and constantly promote diversity at Google, through scholarship programs, internship opportunities and partnerships with organizations working to educate the next generation of engineers and professionals," Newman said in his statement.

Comments

Posted by over50, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm

What about age discrimination? How do they skew compared to others on age of workforce?


Posted by H1B, a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm

It is no secret that most Silicon Valley companies like to hire foreigners with H1B work visas because (1) they can pay lower salaries and (2) the visas only apply to one employer so the employee is unlikely to jump ship. If Americans were willing to work for paltry wages, then Google could send all those foreigners back home.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Nick - can you please get some correct numbers? The NSF numbers you post for degrees *awarded in 2008* only. You need the numbers for the total population, not just a single graduating class. For instance, in 2001, the percentage of computer science degrees awarded to hispanic was approximately 4% - much lower than the 7.5% in 2008.

Web Link


Posted by Alex M., a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Part of the problem also is that there's an observed tendency for hiring managers, particular if they're Indian ethnicity, to hire based on ethnic preference. Indians tend to hire other Indians, particularly male Indians. I know personally of one real life example in a local fortune 500 company that I won't name, where the VP of the division froze hiring except for new hires in Mexico. His Indian subordinates ignored the directive and continued hiring Indians to the group. The demographics of that group are way skewed toward male Indians, completely out of sync with the Silicon Valley high-tech population.

So when a company like Google gets enough critical mass of these types of hiring managers, the problem will self-perpetuate. This may also explain why Indians who get laid off seem to be able to find new work rather easily, compared to their Chinese or Caucasian counterparts.


Posted by jupiterk, a resident of Gemello
on Feb 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Google is not the only abuser of H1 visas. Almost all major corporations Google, HP,Cisco,IBM,Intel,Many banks,etc.. in this country are using companies like Tata, Infosys, Cognizant,Wipro,etc..to get people in here under H-1, L-1 visas. L1-visas are unlimited and you would be shocked how many of these Indian companies bring in their employees as intra company transfer and put them in their client locations. What we have is both political parties are in bed with corporations to overlook all kinds of violations so that their campaigns funded. Blame it on all our local politicians Dianne Feinstein, Boxer,Anna Eshoo,Zoe Lofgren,HOnda for enabling these companies to get away with anything. Its the average American citizen that gets impacted by all these deliberate violations and discrimination. African Americans and some latinos bear the worst blow of these violations and discrimination.


Posted by Thom, a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I'm over 50 - laid off year and a half ago. Applied several times with Google. Haven't seen an interview, or reason for not wanting to interview. Not that they have to but it would be nice to know why someone with my experience isn't being called in to talk about openings they advertise. Good luck proving it even if it is so obvious to those of us experiencing the discrimination first hand.


Posted by Anon, a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Google is definitely the Hugh Hefner of the tech world. You have to be young and perfect to get consideration over there.


Posted by Josh R., a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Alex M is right about the Indians. I work at one of these top companies and the Indian managers will ONLY hire other Indians - that is true.

As for these protests, I don't think you can use the numbers they are providing. Google is one of the top places to work in the world. It does not matter if you have a Computer Science degree. They are selective, how many African Americans have graduated at the top of their class from an Ivy League school? Maybe a lot - I don't know the answer to that question but these are the percentages they should be using.


Posted by Angry Taxpayer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Google needs to hire/train us locals and stop avoiding paying their fair share of taxes by funneling money through Ireland and the UK then to Caribbean off-shore banks. All of these big corporations are robbing the nation while the rest of us must pay our fair share. This is outrageous and the government needs to stand with the people and demand an end to the loop-holes and sneaky tactics these huge companies are using to dodge taxes!


Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm

A country with double-digit unemployment needs to halt ALL immigration until unemployment drops to 5% or less.


Posted by Contractor 1, a resident of another community
on May 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I also agree with Alex M. I'm a contractor and I bounce around from company to company every 6 month. If the hiring manager is Indian I never get the job. And what I'm about to say is really sad, but I found a trick to get in is to use and Indian recruiter. When I use an Indian recruiter they get me in because it's about getting a commission. You would think that the recruiter would discriminate but he has an easier time selling my skills, since I'm a citizen or American. Once I get the job then I have deal with all the Indian trying to push me out or make me quit. They won't train me, they try to make me look bad in front of the boss and so, and so on. Everywhere I go I'm usually one of hand full of American. Also as far as saving money, I really don't think they save that much money by hiring Indians. Often they need to hire more of them because they don't understand how think for themselves. And I notice that I get paid the same hourly rate that most other Indian around me make. I mean they are not stupid. They know what the market should pay. But I will say that the recruiter can make more money because he can usually pay the Indian less and pocket the extra. But the company or fortune 500 usually pays the same for each position. They will post a position and say, We can pay $75 an hour for this position, So find us somebody. So it's really the agencies we need to look at, since they are finding the talent.


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