Google disputes report, says diversity programs aren’t being cut

Maya Shwayder

Google has disputed an earlier report that the company had shut down diversity training programs to dodge accusations of anti-conservative bias, telling Digital Trends the programs were still active.

“Any suggestion that we have scaled back or cut our diversity efforts is false,” a spokesperson told us. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a company-wide commitment and our programs have scaled up to match the pace of Google’s growth.”

The spokesperson was referring to a report by NBC that describes claims by current and former employees that the company had “significantly rolled back” inclusion initiatives since 2018, “in an apparent effort to avoid being perceived as anti-conservative.”

Some of Google’s diversity programs, instead, were being “deprioritized” and culled based on their effectiveness and scalability and were rolled into other “D&I” (diversity and inclusion) programs.

Google told Digital Trends that it’s planning to scale the company’s “racial equity training” to more than 100,000 employees.

Google did confirm to NBC that it had ended a popular program called Sojourn in 2018. The NBC story quotes multiple former and current Google employees who said that the company wanted to shield itself from conservative backlash.

The current and former employees agreed to speak to NBC News on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal for speaking to the press, the news agency said.

“One of the major motivations for cutting Sojourn is that the company doesn’t want to be seen as anti-conservative,” one Google employee familiar with the company’s diversity programming said in an interview. “It does not want to invite lawsuits or claims by right-wing white employees about Google discriminating against them.”

According to its own reporting, Google’s 2020 hires were 48.5% Asian, 43.1% white, and 67.5% men. In 2019, those numbers were 43.9% Asian, 48.5% white, and 66.8% men.

The company’s hiring of black applicants rose from 4.8% to 5.5% from 2019 to 2020, while Hispanic hires dropped from 6.8% to 6.6%.