Google’s Vice President of People Operations, Nancy Lee (yes, girls run the world!) told USA Today that Google will spend $150 million in 2015 to make the tech industry workforce more diverse. It’s no secret that the technology industry is not only a boy’s club, but it’s also lacking racial diversity, so Google, being the internet giant it is, wants to do something about that.
To change the demographics inside Google, the company is casting a wider net for new hires and creating more paths into Google for women and minorities. Lee says this new $150 million initiative will allow employees to volunteer 20 percent of their time to work on diversity projects through a program called Diversity Core. More than 500 Google employees will work on projects at Google and in local communities.
“The tech industry really understands that the future of our industry means we have to be more inclusive,” Lee says. “We are literally building products for the world. It can’t be this homogeneous.”
This isn’t Google’s first time on this initiative–last year they spent $115 million and they’re upping the ante this year.
Google runs bootcamps for minorities and women to teach them how to use the power of technology to boost their small businesses. Earlier this year, Google launched a supplier diversity program to create a more diverse pool of vendors and just last summer, Google debuted their Made To Code campaign, which inspired women to learn about coding.
“Our strategy is extremely long term. Sure, we are doing things that can show an impact maybe this year, maybe next year. But we recognize that there is not enough talent entering into our industry and that we have a lot of work to do,” Lee says.
According to reports, Google has also increased the number of female software engineers they recruit to 22 percent in 2014 from 14 percent in 2010. We’d also like to proudly note that Google’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Yolanda Mangolini is a Black woman! Hey girl hey! “There is just this incredible energy and momentum around diversity,” Mangolini said.
Getting women and minorities in the door is the first step. Google is also focused on creating “an environment of fairness and inclusion where people can bring their whole selves to work,” Lee says.
Lee says it’s not just the dollar amount but Google’s “holistic” strategy to make the tech industry more representative of the populations it serves — from routinely testing hiring, promotion, performance-evaluation and compensation programs for fairness, to embedding engineers at a couple of historically Black colleges and universities where they teach students and advise on computer science curriculum.
Last year, Google more than doubled the number of recruitment schools, targeting the schools with rigorous computer science programs and diverse student population. Lee says that nearly 20 percent of Google’s university hires came from the schools like Alabama A&M and University of Missouri-Columbia.
As women typically are, Lee is a trendsetter and other technology big wigs are taking note. “Google is the first company that has been talking publicly about anything innovative,” said Joelle Emerson, founder and CEO of Paradigm. “So much of what we are all doing is watching what Google is trying and trying similar things.”
What an amazing and major move Google is making to shift the culture of technology to create greater access for people of color! To those who have issues with programs like these that offer an “advantage” to people of color, realize these programs only exist because of the extreme deficit of minorities in the tech business.
It’s going to take a significant amount of time to fully shift to diversify tech culture, but at least Google is fearless enough to make the first step.