By Tamanna Desai,
Technology & Innovation Editor
The Department of Labor (DoL) has accused the big technology tycoon, Google, for discriminating against their female workers and hence violating federal law. The DoL has persistently pushed Google to disclose their salary statistics to ensure that women are compensated for their work in a fair manor.
According to an article on the Guardian, “We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Janette Wipper, a DoL regional director, testified in court in San Francisco on Friday.”
Furthermore, the Guardian reached out to Janet Herald, regional solicitor for the DoL who said, ‘“The investigation is not complete, but at this point the department has received compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters.”’
Recently many technology companies in the Silicon Valley are being scrutinized for issues such as pay discrimination and sexual harassment. The DoL is auditing these companies very strictly and are worried that the government will become more relaxed since President Trump’s administration has started to disfavor the policies put in place regarding female workers under the Obama Administration. Executives for companies such as Oracle and Palantir are involved with the Trump Administration. The DoL has filed lawsuits against those two companies and bring to light perhaps political motive in this discussion.
Google has also been served by the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year and are currently dealing with that. According to an article on Wired, Google violated, “…federal laws like the National Labor Relations Act and state laws like the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. A complaint against Google was filed with the NLRB in May 2016 for unlawful surveillance and interrogation in order to chill and restrict employee rights. A John Doe lawsuit against Google was filed in San Francisco Superior Court seven months later over the company’s “spying program” against leakers.”
There is disparity between the DoL and Google. The DoL states that Google has refused at first to provide their employee data that violates federal laws because Google has contracts with the government and is therefore a federal contractor. Google denied these allegations and are confident that the wage disparity between men and women does not exist in their company. The salary is calculated through a model that analyzes role, job level, location and performance ratings according to CNBC. It does not account for gender or race.
In addition to the percieved wage gap issue, the employee statistics are also astonishing. Their statistics report from 2014 states that 2% of their workers are Black and 3% are Latino. Women only make up 31% of their employee demographic. The lack of women in Silicon Valley has already garnered attention from the public.
Junior year student, Ali Paladino, was shocked to hear about the issues going on with Google. She said, “The only way to break the cycle of only hiring men is to keep informing all employees on the situation so that they are open to new diversities. So many people are knowledgeable and by hiring the same types of people, Google is not allowing itself to be as successful as it possibly could. They say they are open to so many ‘smart creatives’ however they are being discriminative which is quite hypocritical. The best way to break the cycle is to get the public involved.”
When asked about the general issues in Silicon Valley, Professor and Attorney Paula Alexander said, “There are certainly issues of recruitment of women in Silicon Valley, and a glass ceiling, with problems of a pipeline for promotion of women to positions of upper management. These issues have been highlighted of late in the media, including the cover issues of The Atlantic, April 2017.”
Vice President of people operations, Eileen Naughton stated in a blogpost, that Google is “taken aback” by these allegations. She said the model does not take into account gender and recently this year, race. On Twitter, Google claimed that they are trying to close the gender gap and promote diversity within their company. It will be interesting to see how the allegations play out.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 12th print edition.
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