UPDATE: Google has since responded to allegations from the U.S. Department of Labor that claimed the tech giant paid women and nonwhites less than white males in comparable jobs.
"We were taken aback by this assertion, which came without any supporting data or methodology," Eileen Naughton, VP of People Operations, said in a blog posted to the company website. She called the company's annual analysis of pay "extremely scientific and robust." Google has made the same methodology available to others for use, as well.
In late 2016, Google announced they had officially closed the gender pay gap at their company. Naturally, the pay gap is deeply complex and hard to pin down.
The issue originally stems from the DOL suing Google over access to equal opportunity compensation records that the department claims Google is withholding. DOL requires all government contractors to provide this information as a routine audit procedure. In response, Google said that they had offered documents to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) but that the DOL's requests were "overboard in scope" or risked exposure of confidential employee information.
- Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor have uncovered discriminatory pay practices at Google, reports the Associated Press. The tech giant reportedly pays women and nonwhites less than white males in comparable jobs.
- The allegations of pay discrepancies stem from a lawsuit filed in January to bar Google from seeking government contracts unless it turns over its compensation reports, according to AP.
- Google denies the charges, arguing that the investigation is the first time it’s been aware of pay discrepancies and that it has turned over all documents except those it claims might compromise employees’ privacy.
Google is usually heralded as a shining example of company culture, and under former SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock, it was often held as the standard that all tech companies sought to meet. But not even Google is immune to the accusations and problems that plague Silicon Valley, if such claims end up being true.
Unequal pay schemes are common in the industry, partly driven by lower salary offers to women. Laws that block employers from asking about past compensation seek to stymie that practice.
Tech firms say they’re struggling to hire more women and nonwhites, but that stems from not building talent pipelines that seek out women or minorities. It all goes back to company culture and ensuring that values preached by the company are reflected in policies and followed from the top down.
Notably, under the Obama administration, employers seeking lucrative government contracts had to adhere to federal standards covering pay, hiring and other employment practices. For example, all government contractors must now offer workers paid sick leave. However, many of these rules may be slackened under the Trump administration, which already repealed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order.