Alphabet's shareholders nix employee proposals to tie diversity goals to pay
- Shareholders of Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, voted down employees' proposals to tie diversity goals to compensation and get the company to open up about moderating user-generated content, Reuters reported. Alphabet's senior managers used their control of the company's votes to reject the proposals.
- Despite rejecting the employees' ideas, shareholders shared their concern that pay disparity and a lack of diversity may make hiring and retaining workers difficult at the company and hinder innovation in the process, according to Reuters. Irene Knapp, a Google software engineer, described Alphabet's response to the diversity issue generally as "chilling" and the company's culture impaired, as a result. But Eileen Naughton, who heads Google’s HR operations, said the company is still committed to its goal of reaching "market supply representation" of women and minorities by 2020, according to Reuters.
- Google faces one lawsuit from former employees alleging that the company discriminates against women in pay and promotions, as well as another lawsuit targeting the company's "bro culture." Employees also have sued the company for discrimination against conservative, white men.
Google, one of Alphabet's subsidiaries, remains at the center of a storm of lawsuits alleging both that it hasn't done enough and that it has gone too far. In the span of a year, Google has been accused of both being too eager to support diversity and suppressing calls for diversity — revealing the mess that can result when diversity and inclusion initiatives are not approached from a thoughtful, strategic standpoint.
Above all, employees say they want to feel heard by leadership and like their contributions to the wider discussion matter. Simply saying "thank you for bringing this to my attention" after someone approaches management can go a long way, as well as actually following up with an employee once a situation has been handled, experts say. Employers may also need to ensure that employees feel they have a place they can submit complaints without fear of retaliation.
Generally, the tech industry continues to struggle with diversity, in both recruiting and retention. That's why inclusion has emerged as a powerful partner to diverse hiring; bullying, for example, often leads many of diverse backgrounds to leave companies entirely.