Tech activist pushes for Alphabet racial equity audit

STORY: In collaboration with workers at Google's parent company, the activists are asking for an inquiry into racial equity, both throughout the workforce itself and in the market as a result of the company's products.

They have also sent letters to Google's leadership asking for support.

"All the shareholder proposal asks, Is that an independent third party examiner come in and look at the evidence in an organized manner and try to help the company understand what its products are doing to people," Michael Connor, one of the activists, said in an interview Tuesday with Reuters.

"We think this is something the companies should welcome, not oppose," he added.

Connor went on to describe how the company's products create racial bias.

"Alphabet's facial recognition technology has been shown to be biased against people of color... there have been examples of the search engine exhibiting bias and importantly, especially with a platform like YouTube," he said.

Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed accusing Google of systemic racial bias against Black employees. The suit said the search engine company steers Black employees to lower-level jobs, pays them less and denies them opportunities to advance because of their race.

The plaintiff, April Curley, also said the Alphabet Inc. unit subjected Black employees to a hostile work environment, including by often requiring they show identification or be questioned by security at its Mountain View, California campus.

For Connor, the only way forward is transparency.

"If Alphabet were having a problem with its revenue, they'd do an audit and they'd call in outside consultants. If they were having a problem with their supply chain, they'd call in consultants and they'd do an audit," he said. "You have to wonder why they won't do it when it comes to human rights and the impact of their products and services on people all around the world."

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