Google criticised over gender pay gap data

Activist investor casts doubts on search giant’s claims the pay gap at Google is zero

Google proudly proclaimed yesterday that the gender pay gap within the company is statistically zero, meaning men and women in the same position earn the same wages and receive the same benefits.

The company analysed every job group with at least 30 people working in it and at least five men and five women. This equated to 89% of employees total, from entry to executive level.

While Steph Tietbohl and Veronica Gilrane, co-leads for pay and equity at Google, said in a blog post that these criteria "ensured statistical rigor", one activist investor firm has queried the methodology.

Arjuna Capital claimed the analysis is incomplete because these parameters excluded anyone over VP level, because the 11% of employees in those positions don't fit the minimum requirements to be counted. In short, the top level management has, for whatever reason, been excluded.

Natasha Lamb, managing partner and lead filer of gender pay resolutions at Arjuna Capital welcomed Google's publication the statistics as "a serious first step toward ensuring gender pay equity". However, the organisation was "uncomfortable with its lack of breadth".

"Make no mistake: We are eager to withdraw our shareholder proposal at Google, but are concerned that 11% of Google employees are left out of the analysis published today," said Lamb. "We think there is room for improvement and can't give a rubber stamp to an incomplete analysis. For instance, disclosure of the company's median wage gap, like that being disclosed for Google's UK operations by April, would give shareholders a more complete understanding of the issue. That said, Google's announcement is progress in the right direction."

Arjuna Capital has previously successfully pressured eBay, Intel, Apple, Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft and Adobe to improve their standards and transparency on the gender pay gap in the workplace.

IT Pro approached Google for a response to the criticism of its methodology, but the company declined to comment.

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