Tag Archives: Diversity and Inclusion

How Google made me proud to be out at work

Until I started working at Google in 2014, I had never been out at work.  

Now, less than five years later, everything is different: I’m an active volunteer leader in Google’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group—a Googler-run, company-supported organization that works to provide an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, and partners closely with our Trans Employee Resource Group, which represents our transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary colleagues. As part of my role, I’ve had the chance to engage LGBTQ+ Googlers across our global offices, speak publicly about being LGBTQ+ in the workplace and have even been able to share my perspectives and experiences directly with Google leadership. 

At this point, I can barely remember what it felt like to not be a visible, openly LGBTQ+ person at work. So it’s hard to imagine that before joining Google, I felt I couldn’t come out at the office at all. 

As we celebrate National Coming Out Day and reflect on all of the progress we’ve made as a community, I am determined to remember this simple but crucial reality: Openness matters. Community matters. Being able to be out at work matters. 

LGBTQ+ Pride sign at Google

Googlers create signs supporting the LGBTQ+ community for the 2017 New York City Pride March.

Prior to joining Google, I’d spent time in a variety of industries, always under the careful, polite policy of evasion when it came to questions about my personal life. Perhaps I didn’t need to be so secretive. I worked with wonderful, kind people, and though there were no explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ issues from my workplace, I’m sure most of my colleagues and managers wouldn’t have taken issue with my identity. 

Still, for many LGBTQ+ folks, the fear of prejudice can nag at you, and cause you to hesitate even around the most well-meaning of coworkers. Some assume that with the ushering in of marriage equality here in the U.S., other kinds of inequality have disappeared and the movement is complete. But as many LGBTQ+-identifying people will tell you, critical challenges still remain, and it takes a conscious and dedicated effort to counteract their effects. 

Growing up in New Mexico, I got an early introduction to some of the challenges that LGBTQ+ people still so often face: harassment, discrimination, violence. The understanding that being LGBTQ+ was unsafe was imprinted on me almost immediately, and that fear left a lasting mark.  

In each new city, from college to a job to graduate school to another job, I was reminded (often in not-so-subtle ways) that no matter what might change in the law or in popular culture, I should always be wary, always be careful.  

So I never took the chance.  

In so many important ways, restraining from bringing my full self to work hurt my ability to be a good employee. Constantly worrying about slipping up and revealing that I had a girlfriend rather than a boyfriend prevented me from feeling fully integrated. It became an obstacle to forming the kinds of professional relationships that help company culture feel cohesive and supportive.  

Now, I realize how much I was missing.  Today, I’m part of a workplace with visible LGBTQ+ leaders, explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ cultural moments and celebrations and broad encouragement to use what makes me different to create an environment of inclusion for my fellow Googlers. This journey has made me realize how much all workplaces can benefit from supporting their employees’ differences, just as much as they celebrate their collective unity.  

I’m proud. I hope you are, too. 

ExploreCSR grants get more women into computer science research

Since 2000, women have earned only one in five computer science doctoral degrees, one of the lowest in all science and engineering disciplines. As part of our efforts to get more women involved in computer science research careers and make them more accessible to everyone, we’re giving our latest round of exploreCSR grants to 24 universities. With these grants, universities will design workshops to encourage and support more women to pursue research careers in CS.

Princess Sampson, a sophomore at Spelman College studying CS, went to one of last year’s workshops, made possible by an exploreCSR grant. We recently checked in with her about her experience and how it helped her CS research career path.

What inspired your interest in computer science research?
I have always been relentlessly curious. I was raised in Atlanta's Black tech ecosystem, and as a child, I turned one of the bathrooms in my house into a science lab. CS research directly impacts tech product innovations, and it is important that Black women contribute to this knowledge-making.

What motivated you to participate in an exploreCSR supported workshop?
I met Dr. Ayanna Howard, a pioneer for women of color in computing, at South by Southwest. She inspired me to immerse myself in an environment of ambitious women with goals similar to my own.

What did you learn from the exploreCSR workshop?
Advice on how to enter and navigate STEM-focused academic spaces as a woman of color. We were provided with timelines for applying to graduate schools and advice on selecting research experiences or industry work during the summer. Speakers and mentors constantly reiterated the importance of taking self-care as seriously as our academic work. Additionally, even though I entered the program having already decided to attend graduate school and pursue a doctorate in CS, hearing the stories of women who have had careers in industry in addition to academia made it clear that I don't have to pick one over the other.

What advice do you have for others starting their journeys to becoming computer science researchers?
Discover how CS intersects with other fields that you're passionate about. Every field needs people who understand computer science. Research isn't some far off career; students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels are integral to the day to day functioning of almost every lab or initiative. Find out what's going on at your institution and see how you can become involved.

And what are you looking forward to most about the start of a new school year?
In my sophomore year of college, I will be cross-registered at Georgia Tech in addition to my CS coursework at Spelman, taking electives for my philosophy minor, conducting research, as well as continuing my work with the Spelbots (Spelman's robotics and CS outreach organization). I am excited to continue growing as both a human being and an academic.

We are proud to partner with this year’s exploreCSR universities working to increase awareness and participation of women in CS research careers and look forward to hearing from more students like Princess.

How an underdog Fresno startup finds local talent

One thing about building a business that no one ever tells you: your company’s culture is set in stone by the time you hire your tenth employee. Who you hire largely determines your ability to succeed; a recent study found 65 percent of startups fail due to people-related reasons. No pressure, right? 

We're Bitwise Industries, a Central California startup driving economic growth despite being far from the streets of Los Angeles and the high-tech workspaces of the Bay Area. Bitwise taps into the “human potential” of our hometown of Fresno in three key ways: teaching digital skills at our coding school, renovating buildings to provide physical spaces for more than 200 startups and hiring local tech talent at our custom software development firm. 

After five years and more than 125 hires, we have a 90 percent retention rate and a team that is as diverse as Fresno itself: 40 percent women, 50 percent people of color and 20 percent first-generation Americans. We’ve trained more than 4000 local people to code and created more than 1000 jobs, yet the question we get asked most during this period of very fast growth is: "How do you find talent to hire?"

We built our company largely by using free tools (like Google Analytics), by borrowing resources (transforming abandoned buildings into coworking spaces) and by tapping into a nontraditional talent pool (30 percent of the population of Fresno lives below the poverty level). To say we are underdogs is an understatement. So getting things like hiring right doesn’t just fit nicely on a bumper sticker; it’s crucial to the survival of our business. 

If you’re an underdog like us, here’s my advice for how to find great talent in unexpected places.

Take a little extra time. 

The world would have you believe that all the most talented people are already locked up in great jobs. This is categorically false. The more people we teach, the more talent grows. When you look for nontraditional people from nontraditional places and you take an honest bet on them, the idea of any “talent war” goes away.

Have their back, and make sure they know it. 

Your employees have to know you have their backs. Most of them could work anywhere, and they choose to work for you, so treat that like the gift it is. Do that right, and they’ll have your back, too.

When you hire, make sure you’d be willing to stand up for this person in a fight. At the end of a grueling and disappointing period of time, or when mistakes get made, you have to be willing to go to bat for your people. 

Understand that diversity is great for business. 

Inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also a smart business move. The wide-ranging points of view that employees of diverse backgrounds contribute allows a business to attack complex, fast-moving problems from a variety of angles. Cultivate a team that’s up for the challenge.

Partner up.

While founders wear many hats, you simply can’t do everything yourself. Collaborate with like-minded people and organizations to amplify the efforts—like training diverse talent—that really matter to you and reach the people you may want to hire. 

Bitwise Industries is excited to work with Google to create even more opportunities in and beyond Central California. We’re partnering with Grow with Google to provide workshops, resources and trainings related to online marketing, data science, design and more. We’re also teaming up with Google for Startups to offer scholarships for our new six-month founders’ development program, intended to help aspiring entrepreneurs of all backgrounds create product-driven, revenue-generating companies. It’s great to know that Google is as invested in us as founders, like we at Bitwise are invested in the people of “underdog” cities like Fresno. Great talent can—and does—come from anywhere.

Learn to code with Grasshopper, now on desktop

We created Grasshopper to increase access to coding education and to help prepare people for career opportunities in tech. As part of our Grow with Google initiative to create economic opportunity for everyone, today we’re announcing that Grasshopper is now available on desktop, with additional courses to help you build new coding skills. 

Grasshopper on desktop

Learn in a whole new way

Millions of people have used their phones to access Grasshopper's coding lessons from wherever they're located. To support people who prefer to learn on larger screens, starting today, the same Grasshopper beginner-centered learning environment will be accessible on desktop or laptop computers.

We’ve also introduced two new classes specifically designed for your laptop or desktop: Using a Code Editor and Intro to Webpages.

Our Intro to Webpages course includes a new project-based curriculum focused on building and designing a website from the ground up. We teach beginner coders the Javascript fundamentals necessary to build a website, as well as new HTML and CSS-based coursework. After just four courses, beginner coders will understand how to build a simple webpage.

Follow your own path

Since the launch of our app in April 2018, more than two million people have used Grasshopper to grow their coding skills. Grasshopper students include stay-at-home parents, construction workers and factory machinists–people who don’t necessarily have programming experience, but who are interested in exploring coding as a career option. 

For instance, Sheila Eichenberger was looking for her next move when she found Grasshopper. As a mother who had stepped away from a successful career to raise her kids, she was ready to return to the workplace. But, she wanted to try something new. So Sheila started using Grasshopper to explore coding as a career path. 

Now Sheila’s taking the next steps in her journey towards becoming a developer. “Completing the Grasshopper curriculum gave me the confidence to move forward with the pursuit of a coding career," she says.

As we celebrate Ada Lovelace Day and the achievements of women in science, technology and engineering, we will continue working to help everyone learn to code and to pursue their career dreams. If you’re ready to start learning to code, Grasshopper is available on Android, iOS, and on desktop in English.


Building community and making connections at Grace Hopper

I’ve spent most of my career in roles where it becomes less diverse as you go up the ranks. Oftentimes, I’ve been the only Black woman in the room, so I’ve had to create a community where one didn’t exist, and now in my role at Google, it's a big part of my job to create community for underrepresented groups. 

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Kicking off Grace Hopper 2019

This week I’m at the 16th Annual Grace Hopper Conference in Orlando, Florida. Every year, 20,000 people—including nearly 5,000 students from more than 300 institutions—come to Grace Hopper to listen to inspiring talks, make new connections, and network with some of the smartest minds in tech. For us, it’s an opportunity to meet the next generation of Googlers; more than 1,000 Googlers and 50 Google senior leaders will be attending. 

Because events like Grace Hopper are critical to helping women technologists from across the world build their community, access shouldn’t be limited to those who can afford to attend. Since 2004, we’ve worked with Grace Hopper to donate travel grants to help students, and this year, we’ve provided $650,000 for this cause, because we believe that students regardless of their socioeconomic status, should be able to attend the conference so they can forge a path in the technology industry. 

The sense of community at Grace Hopper is one of the reasons women come back every year and I’m looking forward to meeting so many talented women in the industry. Here’s where you can find me and other Googlers at this year’s conference. If you’re in Orlando this week, please stop by and say hi! At the Career Fair Booth, you can check out some of our favorite aspects of working at Google: shared workspaces, activities, and creative nooks to get work done. At the Tech Showcase Booth, get a glimpse of Google’s products and services and the women behind the technology.

If you can’t make it to Orlando for #GHC19, we’ll be bringing the experience to you on our @LifeatGoogle and @GoogleStudents social media channels all week long.


First-ever summit connects hundreds of Latina Googlers

At the end of a two-day summit in Sunnyvale, California, keynote speaker Dolores Huerta led a chant with the audience. She asked the crowd, “Who’s got the power?” And we responded, “We’ve got the power!” She continued: “What kind of power?” We responded: “Latina power!” 

We were at the first-ever Latinas at Google Summit, which took place earlier this month. The summit, called “Building for the Future,” aimed to create community and discuss the unique U.S. experience of being a Latina at Google. Five hundred Googlers attended the summit, which featured guest speakers Huerta and “Orange Is the New Black” actress Jackie Cruz, as well as conversations with senior leaders at Google. 

A group of Google volunteers, myself included, took seven months to carefully plan workshops, music, art exhibits and food inspired by our heritage. The size of the group was awe-inspiring, and so was their response after the event. When they gave us feedback, they told us they found community in the personal stories they shared and left the summit feeling more connected. At the event, they said, they learned new ways to amplify the work they do at Google—and in turn, reach people beyond our walls.

One of the most inspirational moments involved Huerta, who is widely known for her advocacy, especially around farmworker rights, and her foundation, which focuses on civic engagement for young people and families. She delivered a keynote speech and later sat down for an interview with Laura Marquez, Google’s head of Latino community engagement. 

Huerta urged the crowd to use their voice to reach out to their own families and communities to educate and get involved in issues that affect our everyday lives. With one of her 11 children in the audience, Huerta shared her experience and insights that continue to guide her through her 90th birthday, and the work she’ll continue doing in the future. 

Here are a few key lessons Huerta shared with the crowd:

Own your power. 

“As women, sometimes we’re afraid of that word, power. We see it in a negative connotation. A lot of times, we as women kind of hold ourselves back a little bit from the positions we aspire to. And we think, well, maybe I’m not experienced enough, not qualified enough. And I just say: Do it like the guys do. Pretend! Think of yourselves as being the decision makers.  It takes courage to do the things we need to do. And the biggest courage of all is to stand up for ourselves.”

Don’t discount people without formal education. 

“In our organization, many of our women never had a chance to go to high school or college. But does that mean they’re not educated? You know, in Spanish, the word educado has a whole different meaning than it does in English. It means if you’re educated, you’re civil, you have a conscience, you have compassion for other people, you have good manners. That means what educado means in Spanish. It doesn’t mean you have to have a formal education. So that means that many of our parents or our grandparents who never had a chance to go to school, that doesn’t mean they’re not educated. They are educated!”

Research your history. 

“My family has been here for many generations. My great-grandfather was in the Civil War on the Union side. But when I went to Mexico, it was such a revelation to me, even though both of my parents were born in the United States of America. When I saw how many people there were who were so proud of being Mexicans, that really saved me. Because in high school, there was so much racial discrimination, I thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That really saved me in terms of my identity. I want to make sure that [Latino history] is introduced into our school books so people are proud of who they are and can stand up to racial discrimination. If we don’t know our own history, we don’t know our own identity.”

Follow the journey of 13 Latino Trailblazers

Fondly referred to as “El Barrio,” East Harlem is home to one of the largest Latino communities in New York City. It was here that I grew up learning about and celebrating my Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage. From the vibrant murals depicting Latino legends to the salsa music playing from apartment windows, a walk through the neighborhood was a constant reminder of the pride my community felt for our culture. 

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At my bilingual elementary school, our teachers taught us about Latino artists, scientists, athletes and other cultural icons. We learned about how Roberto Clemente, an Afro-Boricua who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was not only one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time, but was also well known for his philanthropic and humanitarian efforts. And how Celia Cruz, whose music was often played at my family gatherings, brought Latin music to the mainstream with her powerful voice and Afro-Latino rhythms.

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The societal contributions of Latinos reach far beyond East Harlem. To celebrate this diversity during Hispanic Heritage Month, members and allies of HOLA, the Hispanic Googler Network, partnered with Google Earth to show the impact Latinos have made around the world. Get a glimpse of how Roberto Clemente, Celia Cruz and 11 other Trailblazing Latinos have broken barriers and paved the way in industries from fashion to medicine. 

Advice from a salon owner turned startup founder

I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s possible to raise millions of dollars to get your business off the ground—and not know a thing about fundraising. My cofounder and I did. As a matter of fact, we’re first-time tech entrepreneurs who don’t live in Silicon Valley (the horror!), we’re married (surprise!), and we’re far from being software developers (Java means coffee in our world). We’re African-American, and we’re serving a community that people don’t readily associate with technology: beauticians and barbers.

Back in 2018, we were the first Texas founders to win Google Demo Day, which helped us secure $500,000 in funding. We don't look like a lot of founders out there, and we've learned a few things about how gritty entrepreneurs can get funding for their businesses.

Believe in yourself and prove it.

It may sound cliché, but optimism is a competitive advantage. Others doubted our idea for ShearShare, an app that connects salon and barbershop owners to stylists who can fill empty chairs in their shops, but we knew better—we had already tested out the idea before developing the app. So stand firm in your self-confidence, drown out all the noise, and keep going. To help get you there, try experimenting on a small scale for several months before you apply for that line of credit or meet with an angel investor. Doing a series of interviews with potential customers is one of the best ways to build a product that solves a real problem.

Uncover alternative methods to funding your business.

Consider local pitch competitions, contests, your alma mater’s innovation or entrepreneurship lab, specialty business loans, and crowdfunding platforms. We entered so many pitch competitions that I can probably recite our pitch backwards. These programs are out there and just require a little elbow grease. Look for them.

She who has the best data wins. 

Data helps you identify macro trends before the winds really start to shift. So start tracking everything now and do more of what works. As entrepreneurs with a limited budget, we spent $10 per week on Google AdWords in the early days to get in front of customers who were looking for our solution. When we look at how our users first hear of ShearShare, just over 30 percent say they saw our ads on Google. We then take that data and use other free tools like Google Sheets and Google Analytics to find additional insights. Knowing who your users are and how they behave makes sure the right audience sees you when it matters most.

Your company is only as healthy as you are. 

Be ready for a marathon, because starting a business is far from a sprint. Mentors from Google emphasized the importance of well-being and reminded us to prioritize ourselves during our preparation for Google Demo Day 2018. If my cofounder and I hadn’t been bullish on self-care—eating well, getting enough sleep, taking much-needed breaks, exercising—we wouldn’t have been able to get through the more than 250 meetings that it took to raise money for ShearShare. Prioritizing your self-care is good for business.

Find supporters who believe in your vision and share your values.

We didn’t know how to meet investors because we didn’t have a network, so we asked folks with a specialized skill set for help. And when we asked for help, those conversations led to introductions to people who believed in our vision. These were people like Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital, Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Winterpoint Capital, andCharles Hudson of Precursor Ventures, who are now ShearShare investors. Though countless investors passed on us, we found the right ones who share our values: grit, integrity, subject-matter expertise, determination and fortitude. 

Even though the road to entrepreneurship wasn’t paved with gold, my cofounder and I saw opportunity where others saw an empty chair. Throughout it all, we believed in our idea, listened intently to our users and found a supportive network to help us keep growing. And it’s proving to be the right bet, as day by day ShearShare is changing an age-old industry and creating jobs and wealth for beauty and barbering professionals worldwide. 



While school was out, interns were in: our 20th intern class

Since Google’s first class of interns walked through our doors in 1999, thousands of students from across the country have joined us for the summer and used their intern experience to launch their careers after graduation. I should know: I was part of Google’s first intern class. There were just four of us that year and I quickly discovered, in ways that surprised me, how much there was to learn outside the classroom.

After reading through more than 125,000 applications for this year’s class, we welcomed thousands of summer interns to more than 20 U.S. offices including our locations outside of California, like New York, Seattle-Kirkland, Austin, Chicago and Atlanta.

Google’s twentieth intern class was our most representative in history. In the U.S., 24 percent of 2019 interns identify as Black+ or Latinx+, up from ~20 percent in 2018, and 37 percent identify as women, up from 34 percent in 2018. They came to Google from 380 universities and 44 states.

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Our internship program is one way we’re working to build a workforce that’s more representative of the people we serve, in addition to developing programs to retain and grow diverse talent and improve representation at the leadership level. And because unpaid internships are a are a dealbreaker for a lot of students, often shutting out low-income and underrepresented applicants, we only offer paid internships.

While our interns hail from almost every corner of the country, they share one thing in common: a passion for technology. Our goal for the internship program is to fuel this passion and teach our interns new skills with projects that matter to the company—as well as other fun stuff, like hearing from Google leaders and being paired with a mentor.

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Hats off to our interns, photographed here at their orientation.

Thank you to the 2019 interns who spent the summer with us! Without you, many of our projects and products wouldn’t be where they are today.

Code Next students merge computer science and activism

At this year’s Google Code Next Hackathon, students used computer science know-how to build applications that they hope will make a difference in the world. They pitched and presented projects like “AirFreeN’Free,” a website to fight the housing crisis in the Bay Area, “Know Your Rights,” which looked to inform citizens of their rights when stopped by law enforcement and “Equal Income,” which informs citizens on the gender pay gap. 

Code Next (a Code With Google program) is a free computer science education program for Black and Latinx high school students. The program works in communities to inspire students and equip students with the skills and education necessary for careers in CS. The two-day Hackathon, which took place in both Oakland and New York City in June, is one of the program’s most anticipated events of the year. Students use the knowledge learned in the classroom to come up with ideas, develop them and pitch prototypes. 

This year, students were challenged to develop a mobile or web application that addressed social justice, inequality or the environment. 

Day one of the Hackathon centered on ideas. In Oakland, a workshop was led by Anthony Mays, an advocate for inclusion and diversity in tech. He cheered the students and encouraged them to trust their instincts. “Whatever comes straight to mind.” Mays instructed the students, “I want you to write it down.” 

Day two centered on the coding and preparation for the pitch, which occurred at the end of the day. 

“We do discuss what we want to do for the world and how to save it, but we don’t usually pitch like this,” says Merelis Peralta, a Code Next student, whose “Police Brutality” app won third place in New York City.  “Having to pitch about how we want to help our community and make them safer opens our voice.” 

Both of this year’s winners addressed the environment. In Oakland, Code Next students Adesina Taylor, Luis Sanchez, Jacob Sonhthila, Xzavier Ceja and David Ung took home the first place prize. The team, which called their project “STEN,” created a web application that allows users to buy and distribute stone paper, an alternative to paper made from wood, as a means to fight deforestation. 

In New York, students Mohammad Hasan, Mohammed Ibrahim, Andy Asante, Alexander Leonardi and Rafid Almustaqim won first prize with a mobile application, “NextGen Carbon,” that tracks pollution levels. The app places users in competition with one another by tracking their day to day carbon emissions, encouraging them to reduce their numbers. 

“We want to emphasize that there are people that know what global warming is,” Andy says. “They just don’t know what causes it. Our app informs them.” 

At the conclusion of the two days, the students celebrated their achievements, their hard work and the challenges they overcame as a team in front of their Code Next mentors, coaches, family and friends. 

“After trying Code Next, I found out that although CS might be hard, it’s fun at the same time,” says student Ayan Cooper. “I want people to see that that it’s meaningful.”