Author Archives: Eileen Naughton

Update on the Department of Labor Lawsuit

Editor’s note: On Friday, an administrative law judge for the United States Department of Labor issued a recommended decision and order regarding a demand for extensive data about Google employees made by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor. The decision concluded that the OFCCP demands were “over-broad, intrusive on employee privacy, unduly burdensome and insufficiently focused on obtaining the relevant information.” We asked Eileen Naughton, our VP of People Operations (see her previous post on pay equity) to provide more detail.

You may have read about a wide-ranging audit of Google being performed by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.  

We’ve complied with various past OFCCP audits in connection with federal contracts, and those audits have not resulted in challenges to our practices.  Over the last year, in connection with this audit alone, we've provided more than 329,000 documents and more than 1.7 million data points, including detailed compensation information, in response to OFCCP’s 18 different data requests.

But ultimately we reached an impasse when OFCCP demanded even more: employees’ compensation and other job information dating back 15 years, as well as extensive personal employee data and contact information for more than 25,000 employees.  We were concerned that these requests went beyond the scope of what was relevant to this specific audit, and posed unnecessary risks to employees’ privacy.  Despite our repeated efforts to resolve this impasse informally, OFCCP issued a complaint against us demanding access to the information and asserting we had no right to challenge their requests.

On Friday, an administrative law judge for the United States Department of Labor issued a recommended decision and order as to OFCCP’s demand for this data. The decision concluded that the demands were “over-broad, intrusive on employee privacy, unduly burdensome and insufficiently focused on obtaining the relevant information.”

In the course of the litigation around the scope of the audit, an OFCCP witness asserted that there are gender-related disparities in our compensation practices related to salary negotiations. The decision found that: “Despite having several investigators interview more than 20 Google executives and managers over two days and having reviewed over a million compensation-related data points and many hundreds of thousands of documents, OFCCP offered nothing credible or reliable to show that its theory ... is based ... on anything more than speculation.”

Moreover, our own annual analysis shows no gender pay gap at Google. We’ve shared our methodology publicly. And we appreciate the decision’s recognition that our compensation policies and practices are “intricately designed to bring people on the same job with the same job performance rating to the same salary over time." The decision also notes that OFCCP has not taken sufficient steps to learn how our systems work and may not have ”accurately understood” them.

We were also concerned that providing personal contact information for more than 25,000 Google employees could have privacy implications, and the judge agreed, citing the history of government data breaches and recent hacking of Department of Labor data. 

Assuming the recommended decision becomes final, we’ll comply with the remainder of the order, and provide the much more limited data set of information the judge approved, including the contact information for a smaller sample of up to 8,000 employees.   

We invest a lot in our efforts to create a fair and inclusive environment for all our employees—across all genders and races. The judge acknowledged this, saying: “I would think that the Department would laud government contractors that spend hundreds of millions of dollars on diversity initiatives, not use those voluntary efforts against these companies."

While we're pleased with Friday’s recommended decision, we remain committed to treating, and paying, people fairly and without bias with regard to factors like gender or race. We are proud of our practices and leadership in this area, and we look forward to working constructively with OFCCP, as we complete this review and in the future.

Making progress on diversity and inclusion

Since 2014, when we first released data on Google’s racial and gender makeup, we’ve taken steps to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Our employees, products and business depend on us getting this right. To push our work forward, we’re thrilled that Danielle Brown will be joining Google as our new Vice President of Diversity. She’ll start in July, and comes with the deep conviction that Google provides a platform where she and the team can make a real impact internally and across the tech industry.

Danielle joins us from Intel, where she was VP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for the past several years and, most recently, Group Chief Human Resources Officer. There she developed ambitious goals and initiatives that helped Intel increase its gender and racial diversity in its workforce and executive ranks.

At Google, Danielle will be responsible for managing our diversity and inclusion strategy, partnering with our senior executives on this vital work. While we’ve made progress in recent years for both women and people of color, there are areas for improvement across the board—in terms of our hiring, our promotion and retention, our commitments, our working environment, and how we measure success or failure.  Danielle will look at our efforts in all these areas afresh and I’m excited to work with her.

Google’s updated workforce representation data shows that overall women make up 31 percent of our employees. In the past three years, women in tech roles have grown from 17 percent to 20 percent (from 19 percent to 20 percent over the last year) and women in leadership roles have grown from 21 percent to 25 percent (from 24 percent to 25 percent over the last year).

In the same period, our Black non-tech population has grown from 2 percent to 5 percent (from 4 percent to 5 percent over the last year). And in the past year, Hispanic Googlers have grown from 3 percent to 4 percent of our employees.

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Overall gender and racial representation at Google.

But clearly, there is much more to do.

Black Googlers still make up only 1 percent of our technical workforce, and we’re working to change that. Sponsored by Google vice president Bonita Stewart, we recently launched Howard West, a three-month engineering residency on our campus for Howard University computer science majors. Our Google in Residence initiative, which embeds Google engineers at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), is continuing into its sixth year this fall.

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Howard West students in their lounge at the Googleplex.

For all of our communities of color, we’re working to make sure our culture is rewarding and welcoming through events, town halls, employee resource groups, and ensuring fairness in the promotion process. We know this is critical to making it safe for everyone to bring their best and most innovative ideas to the table. For example, the idea for our Really Blue Pixel came from Alberto Villarreal, the phone’s creative lead and industrial design manager, who derived the color from the Mexico City of his youth. The phone was released in October and sold out within minutes. Alberto is part of a vibrant community of Hispanic Googlers, whose contributions are essential to our ability to reflect the world around us, especially here at our California HQ.

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Alberto Villarreal with the Really Blue Pixel.

As with Blacks and Hispanics, hiring more female engineers—and empowering them to thrive—is a top priority. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently highlighted the industry-wide importance of women's support groups and personal commitments by senior leaders to advancing gender diversity. I completely agree; they are both essential in creating a supportive culture, and providing opportunities for women and people of color to grow their careers. Google’s employee resource groups, including Women@Google and Google Women in Engineering, both of which are actively supported by senior executives and have thousands of members, regularly host summits, provide career development opportunities, and offer mentorship.

More than other industries, the technology sector is extremely open about its challenges in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. We all welcome the conversation and the scrutiny; it helps us raise the bar in terms of this important work and our commitment to it. I’m thrilled to welcome Danielle to Google, because she shares both our values and our desire for action.

For more information, take a look at our updated representation data.

Our focus on pay equity

Pay equity is a huge issue, not just for Silicon Valley companies, but across every industry in every country.

It’s very important to us that men and women who join Google in the same role are compensated on a level playing field, when they start and throughout their careers here.

That’s why, in the hopes of encouraging a broader conversation around the pay gap - and how companies can fight it - we shared our top-level analysis publicly in 2016. Google conducts rigorous, annual analyses so that our pay practices remain aligned with our commitment to equal pay practices.

So we were quite surprised when a representative of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the U.S. Department of Labor (OFCCP) accused us of not compensating women fairly.  We were taken aback by this assertion, which came without any supporting data or methodology.  The OFCCP representative claimed to have reached this conclusion even as the OFCCP is seeking thousands of employee records, including contact details of our employees, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents we’ve already produced in response to 18 different document requests.

The fact is that our annual analysis is extremely scientific and robust. It relies on the same confidence interval that is used in medical testing (>95%).  And we have made the methodology available to other businesses who want to test their own compensation practices for equal pay.

So how does it work?

In short, each year, we suggest an amount for every employee’s new compensation (consisting of base salary, bonus and equity) based on role, job level, job location as well as current and recent performance ratings.  This suggested amount is “blind” to gender; the analysts who calculate the suggested amounts do not have access to employees’ gender data. An employee’s manager has limited discretion to adjust the suggested amount, providing they cite a legitimate adjustment rationale.

Our pay equity model then looks at employees in the same job categories, and analyzes their compensation to confirm that the adjusted amount shows no statistically significant differences between men’s and women’s compensation.

equalpay_action_keyword.jpg

In late 2016, we performed our most recent analysis across 52 different, major job categories, and found no gender pay gap. Nevertheless, if individual employees are concerned, or think there are unique factors at play, or want a more individualized assessment, we dive deeper and make any appropriate corrections.

Our analysis gives us confidence that there is no gender pay gap at Google.  In fact, we recently expanded the analysis to cover race in the US.

We hope to work with the OFCCP to resolve this issue, and to help in its mission to improve equal pay across federal contractors.  And we look forward to demonstrating the robustness of Google’s approach to equal pay.

Our focus on pay equity

Pay equity is a huge issue, not just for Silicon Valley companies, but across every industry in every country.

It’s very important to us that men and women who join Google in the same role are compensated on a level playing field, when they start and throughout their careers here.

That’s why, in the hopes of encouraging a broader conversation around the pay gap - and how companies can fight it - we shared our top-level analysis publicly in 2016. Google conducts rigorous, annual analyses so that our pay practices remain aligned with our commitment to equal pay practices.

So we were quite surprised when a representative of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the U.S. Department of Labor (OFCCP) accused us of not compensating women fairly.  We were taken aback by this assertion, which came without any supporting data or methodology.  The OFCCP representative claimed to have reached this conclusion even as the OFCCP is seeking thousands of employee records, including contact details of our employees, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents we’ve already produced in response to 18 different document requests.

The fact is that our annual analysis is extremely scientific and robust. It relies on the same confidence interval that is used in medical testing (>95%).  And we have made the methodology available to other businesses who want to test their own compensation practices for equal pay.

So how does it work?

In short, each year, we suggest an amount for every employee’s new compensation (consisting of base salary, bonus and equity) based on role, job level, job location as well as current and recent performance ratings.  This suggested amount is “blind” to gender; the analysts who calculate the suggested amounts do not have access to employees’ gender data. An employee’s manager has limited discretion to adjust the suggested amount, providing they cite a legitimate adjustment rationale.

Our pay equity model then looks at employees in the same job categories, and analyzes their compensation to confirm that the adjusted amount shows no statistically significant differences between men’s and women’s compensation.

equalpay_action_keyword.jpg

In late 2016, we performed our most recent analysis across 52 different, major job categories, and found no gender pay gap. Nevertheless, if individual employees are concerned, or think there are unique factors at play, or want a more individualized assessment, we dive deeper and make any appropriate corrections.

Our analysis gives us confidence that there is no gender pay gap at Google.  In fact, we recently expanded the analysis to cover race in the US.

We hope to work with the OFCCP to resolve this issue, and to help in its mission to improve equal pay across federal contractors.  And we look forward to demonstrating the robustness of Google’s approach to equal pay.

Our focus on pay equity

Pay equity is a huge issue, not just for Silicon Valley companies, but across every industry in every country.

It’s very important to us that men and women who join Google in the same role are compensated on a level playing field, when they start and throughout their careers here.

That’s why, in the hopes of encouraging a broader conversation around the pay gap - and how companies can fight it - we shared our top-level analysis publicly in 2016. Google conducts rigorous, annual analyses so that our pay practices remain aligned with our commitment to equal pay practices.

So we were quite surprised when a representative of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the U.S. Department of Labor (OFCCP) accused us of not compensating women fairly.  We were taken aback by this assertion, which came without any supporting data or methodology.  The OFCCP representative claimed to have reached this conclusion even as the OFCCP is seeking thousands of employee records, including contact details of our employees, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents we’ve already produced in response to 18 different document requests.

The fact is that our annual analysis is extremely scientific and robust. It relies on the same confidence interval that is used in medical testing (>95%).  And we have made the methodology available to other businesses who want to test their own compensation practices for equal pay.

So how does it work?

In short, each year, we suggest an amount for every employee’s new compensation (consisting of base salary, bonus and equity) based on role, job level, job location as well as current and recent performance ratings.  This suggested amount is “blind” to gender; the analysts who calculate the suggested amounts do not have access to employees’ gender data. An employee’s manager has limited discretion to adjust the suggested amount, providing they cite a legitimate adjustment rationale.

Our pay equity model then looks at employees in the same job categories, and analyzes their compensation to confirm that the adjusted amount shows no statistically significant differences between men’s and women’s compensation.

equalpay_action_keyword.jpg

In late 2016, we performed our most recent analysis across 52 different, major job categories, and found no gender pay gap. Nevertheless, if individual employees are concerned, or think there are unique factors at play, or want a more individualized assessment, we dive deeper and make any appropriate corrections.

Our analysis gives us confidence that there is no gender pay gap at Google.  In fact, we recently expanded the analysis to cover race in the US.

We hope to work with the OFCCP to resolve this issue, and to help in its mission to improve equal pay across federal contractors.  And we look forward to demonstrating the robustness of Google’s approach to equal pay.