Google Is Hiring More Black People But Struggling to Retain Them

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Google reported its best year yet for hiring Black employees, but rising departures of the same group highlights a risk to the company’s plan to double its Black workforce.

The company said 8.8% of Google’s U.S. hires were “Black+,” compared with 5.5% the previous year, representing the largest gain among all racial groups. Attrition, however, also increased among Black employees and other racial minority groups, with Black women having the highest jump in the metric, the Alphabet Inc. company said Thursday in its annual diversity report. The company uses the plus designation to include people who identify as multiple races.

Google made a big push to hire more Black employees last year, after the police murder of George Floyd sparked worldwide protests in support of racial justice. The company pledged in October to double the number of “Black+” Googlers by 2025, and by the same year, wants to increase people from underrepresented groups in senior roles by 30%. The internet giant was one of the first tech companies to compile a diversity report, in 2014, but has shown slow progress in changing the racial and gender diversity of its staff despite rapidly expanding its workforce since then.

“We recognize the platform that we have and the brand position that we have, and we know that there are other companies that are watching us, looking at us,” Melonie Parker, Google’s chief diversity officer, said in a video Thursday. “And we want to make sure that we don’t just show our successes, but that we show the areas that we need to get better as well.”

The Mountain View, California-based company measures attrition on a scale that sets 100 as the benchmark. Among Black women, the number jumped to 146 in the 2021 report, from 110 in 2020. Native American women, Latinx men and Asian men also left the company at higher rates.

Overall, Google’s U.S. workforce is just more than 50% White, 42% Asian, 6.4% Latinx, 4.4% Black and 0.8% Native American -- representing slight changes from the figures reported in 2020. The biggest differences were a 1.3 percentage point decline for White employees and just less than a 1 percentage point gain among Black employees. The company’s U.S. staff is about 32% female and 68% male -- a similar gender breakdown as Google’s global workforce.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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