“A hundred black employees could testify to the pain they feel in a climate that’s inadvertently hostile towards them and management will go back and say, ‘I need to get more data,’ and then three angry white men complain and everything comes to a halt.” So says a Google employee speaking to NBC News under condition of anonymity.

NBC News reporter April Glaser today released a bombshell report indicating Google’s pivoted toward appeasing conservatives in a company-wide rollback of inclusivity and diversity programs.

According to Glaser, seven current and former Google employees are alleging the company is wittingly reducing its internal diversity programs in order to capitulate to Conservatives. The employees cite a program called Sojourn, designed to educate Googlers about racial injustice and bias, as one example of a diversity initiative that was unceremoniously eradicated for dubious reasons.

Glaser reports:

Seven current and former employees from across a range of teams and roles at the company said separately that they all believed the reason behind cutting Sojourn and taking employees off diversity projects to move them elsewhere at Google was to shield the company from backlash from conservatives.

Google, according to the article, says it killed Sojourn and similar initiatives because they were too difficult to scale globally due to the fact they dealt, mostly, with issues concerning US culture. As Glaser points out, however, Google and the lion’s share of its employees are based in the US.

The company’s chief diversity officer, Melonie Parker, pushed back against the employees’ allegations. They claim Google is simply maturing its programs. But less than 10 percent of Google’s workforce is made up of blacks and latinos combined. In recent years the company has hired tens of thousands of people, yet it’s barely managed to budge the needle away from its long-standing habit of primarily employing only white and Asian men.

I’m not sure what kind of conservative backlash Google is trying to avoid by reducing or rolling back its diversity programs – are conservatives that hellbent on keeping commercial AI companies white and Asian? And is the ire of those who would see diversity and inclusivity as a form of discrimination against themselves really something a company should actively seek to avoid? Especially one whose motto used to be “don’t be evil?”

[Read: Pichai is a mistake]

It seems like Google’s been back on its heels ever since it fired James Damore for penning and circulating a poor-quality 10-page screed citing outdated research from fringe scientists on the subject of why they think women are bad at tech.

In the time since, the Mountain View company, under Sundar Pichai’s leadership, has plummeted from its lofty perch as big tech’s public darling to become a beleaguered business with more self-induced PR nightmares than Exxon in the 1990s. Perhaps it’s time Google leadership started listening to a different set of critics than the Rush Limbaughs, James Damores, and Stephen Bannons of the world.

Published May 13, 2020 — 22:02 UTC

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