Former Google engineer Erica Baker says that when she tried to expose the pay inequalities at the advertising giant, she got in trouble with management in a series of Twitter posts.
Out of boredom, Baker and some coworkers made a spreadsheet that would list everybody’s salaries as an experiment in radical transparency and shared it on Google’s internal social network.
The idea caught fire through the company, and more and more Googlers started adding their salary data.
That data made it clear that there were some “not great” trends — implied by Baker, but not stated, to be correlated to gender and ethnicity. Several Googlers used the data to ask for, and receive, higher pay, Baker says.
Meanwhile, Baker says she got called in to get reprimanded by her manager. And while that manager couldn’t legally do anything in direct retaliation to Baker, she still had her revenge.
Google has a system for “peer bonuses,” where anyone can give anyone else a $US150 bonus just for doing good work. Baker’s coworkers were sending her that bonus in gratitude for her work on the salary spreadsheet. But she never actually got any of that cash.
It turns out that the peer bonus still has to be signed off on by a manager. And Baker says that her manager didn’t sign off on a single one, even as her coworkers still received there. It was a small, but significant, form of retaliation, Baker says. Meanwhile, the spreadsheet continued to grow.
Baker, who currently works at super-hot enterprise chat messaging app Slack, tweeted that she was moved to share this story now because of this week’s well-received Google Doodle celebrating African-American suffragist Ida B. Wells.
A Google spokesperson gave the following statement:
Our policy is not to comment on individual or former employees, but we can confirm that we regularly run analysis of compensation, promotion, and performance to ensure that they are equitable with no pay gap. Employees are free to share their salaries with one another if they choose.
Here’s the full tweet stream: