- Google will create "a range of anti-racism educational programs" for employees as part of a set of initiatives aimed at building racial equity and inclusion, CEO Sundar Pichai said in a June 17 statement.
- The training, to be launched by early 2021, will cover systemic racism and racial consciousness, Pichai said. The company will also invite external speakers for conversations on subjects including racial history, structural inequities, allyship and self-reflection. Diversity and inclusion will be integrated into mandatory managerial meetings, and the anti-racism training will be delivered to Google employees at all levels.
- Other equity initiatives launched by the company include updating security measures to eliminate the practice of Google employees "badge-checking" each other, as well as increasing the number of Black mental health counselors available to employees, Pichai said. Google did not respond to an HR Dive request for comment.
As protests against systemic racism and police brutality continue in recent weeks, many businesses have publicly committed both to external initiatives and internal restructuring aimed at rooting out inequity.
For Google, the move follows years of employee criticism of the company’s internal D&I policies and progress. In 2018, employees staged a global walkout over Google's policies on mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment and assault suits brought by employees. In February of this year, one former engineer criticized the company for refusing to engage with employees about D&I issues and closing certain employee forums on the subject.
Google has since done some shuffling at the executive level, with its former chief people officer having stepped down in February. In the June 17 statement, Pichai described conversations with Black employees and leadership as a central reasoning behind its new initiatives: "Listening to the personal accounts of members of our Black Leadership Advisory Group and our Black+ Googlers has only reinforced for me the reality our Black communities face: one where systemic racism permeates every aspect of life, from interactions with law enforcement, to access to housing and capital, to health care, education, and the workplace."
Even before the recent social movement toward equity, researchers at various groups detailed prejudices faced by Black workers. In December, a report from the nonprofit Center for Talent Innovation found that 43% of Black executives surveyed had experienced racially insensitive language being used in front of them, and nearly 20% of Black professionals said they felt someone of their race or ethnicity would never reach a top position at their organization.
Talent development is an important area that helps to determine whether people of color have the chance to advance their careers within and outside of an organization, sources previously told HR Dive. Learning and development professionals can open opportunities for these workers by tying managerial evaluation to equity standards like reducing differential turnover between ethnic groups, and by formalizing mentorship programs and career paths that allow all workers a more objective path toward advancement.
Additionally, a September 2019 report from the nonprofit National Skills Coalition called on employers to invest in technical assistance and guidance frameworks that address racial disparities as well as addressing occupational segregation in hiring.
At a broader scale, employers can show solidarity with employees speaking out against injustice and systemic racism by conducting employee surveys on D&I and equity issues, improving team diversity and boosting employee assistance programs and other spaces that allow open discussion of these issues.