Google's diversity record is hurting recruitment, warns university outreach group

Churn rate remains highest among non-white employees despite numerous diversity pledges

An internal Google team that represents the firm at universities has called on the tech giant to be "clearer" on its own diversity targets.

The company's University Programs team has claimed that Google's high churn rate among non-white employees is hurting recruitment, according to an internal email seen by CNBC.

Members of the team originally sent the email to Google's director of People Operations, Kyle Ewing, in June. The letter reportedly expresses dissatisfaction with the company's recruitment policy for non-white candidates and outlines a list of ways it can better clarify the roles and targets of the University Program.

"We are the first step in shaping what Google will look like in the next year, two years and beyond," the letter said. "It is crucial that we are working towards building a culture of inclusion and each UPer (University Programs team member) should be assessed on that, especially since our work directly ties back to increasing representation. We don't want to bring in talented students who end up leaving because the future isn't what they thought it would be."

In a statement regarding the letter, Google said it "deeply appreciated" the email and all "Googlers" taking an active part in the company's racial equity commitments. In June, following the death of George Floyd, CEO Sundar Pichai announced a number of initiatives to support black-owned businesses and plans to increase "underrepresented" people in its leadership team by 30% within the next five years.

These plans have since been criticised by some employees who question the depth of the company's public commitments on racial equality. They also point to multiple reports showing Google has made little progress in actually building a diverse workforce.

According to Google's 2018 diversity report, its workforce was largely made up of men, who accounted for 70% of employees, with 53% of those being white – almost the same proportion as in 2017. Only 2% of Google staff were black and 3.6% Latino.

Employee churn rate is also said to be highest among both black and Latino workers: 127 black employees left Google in 2017 compared to 108 white workers.

Little has changed in the two years that have followed, with attrition rates for Google's black employees still higher than the average non-white employee. Black females, in particular, have seen a spike in attrition, up 18% year on year, according to the company's 2020 diversity report.

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