These 7 graphs lay bare Google's diversity problem

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai.
  • Google has published its 2018 diversity report.
  • The figures show that while Google’s diversity is improving, it’s moving at a very slow pace.
  • Numbers of both black and Native American workers at the firm have grown less than 1 percentage point over the past four years. Black US employees are leaving more than any other ethnic group.
  • Women make up 30.9% of the workforce but are less represented in leadership and tech roles.

Google published its 2018 annual diversity report this past weekend.

Written by the company’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, Danielle Brown, the report shows that while Google’s diversity is getting better, improvement is moving at a slow pace.

A Google engineer directly challenged Google’s board about diversity earlier this month at the firm’s investor meeting. The engineer, Irene Knapp, said the lack of progress on diversity had a “chilling” effect on Google’s workforce.

The overall picture

This graph shows the ethnic makeup of Google’s US workforce. More than half of workers (53.1%) were white, a drop of 2.4 percentage points from 2017.

As a result, the number of staff members from other ethnic backgrounds increased by tiny margins, but they all remained broadly flat. The four-year trend is slighter better for Google: In 2014, 61.3% of its American staff members were white.

Google overall representationGoogleGoogle’s overall representation.

Here is the same graph broken down to allow for intersectionality (i.e., the overlap between gender and ethnicity). A “+” indicates the inclusion of people who identify as more than one race as well as people who identify as just one.

It shows that women of all ethnicities were less represented in Google’s workforce than men of the same ethnicity. Google’s report calls this “unsurprising.”

Google intersectional overall diversityGoogleGoogle’s overall diversity presented to highlight intersectionality.

Leadership roles

This graph shows the diversity of Google’s leadership positions, though the report is unspecific as to what constitutes a “leadership position.”

The number of women in leadership positions was up 4.7 percentage points since 2014, with female leaders most recently making up just over a quarter of Google’s senior staff.

But the number of black people in leadership positions was up a mere half a percentage point in the past four years, and Latinx people an even tinier 0.2 points.

Google leadership representationGoogleGoogle’s leadership diversity.

Tech roles

The world of tech is not exactly known for its diversity, and the report shows that Google is still mainly recruiting white men. It did not specify what it meant by tech roles, but it’s likely to include engineers and other technical staff members.

Google tech diversityGoogleGoogle’s diversity in tech staff.

General hires were slightly more promising in some respects, with a higher percentage of women and black and Latinx people. The percentage of Asian people hired, however, was lower than in tech.

Google hires 2017GoogleGoogle’s 2017 hires.

People leaving Google

Hires alone don’t necessarily correlate to representation; employees leaving the company must also be taken into account.

This is measured by the “attrition index,” which indicates how many employees leave Google annually. The global gender attrition index showed that more women than men were staying at the company.

Google gender attrition indexGoogleGoogle’s gender-attrition index.

The US attrition index showed that more black employees were leaving than any other group.

Google Attrition by ethnicityGoogleGoogle’s US attrition index by ethnicity.

Google noted that the number of black employees departing had “offset” its hiring gains, leading to “smaller increases in representation than we would have seen otherwise.”

Incremental change

Looking at the stats over the past four years, Google’s diversity is improving at a slow rate. The overall female workforce has only increased 0.3 percentage points in four years. The number of black and Native American employees has grown only 0.6 and 0.3 percentage points.

Google workforce composition 2014 2018GoogleGoogle’s workforce composition 2014 to 2018.
Google intersectional workforce composition 2014 2018GoogleGoogle’s intersectional workforce composition 2014 to 2018.

“Google’s workforce data demonstrates that if we want a better outcome, we need to evolve our approach,” the report concludes. “That’s why from now on ownership for diversity and inclusion will be shared between Google’s leadership team, people operations, and Googlers.”

“Googler” refers to anybody who works at Google, implying that every Google employee will be held responsible for diversity and inclusion at the company.

“We care deeply about improving workforce representation and creating an inclusive culture for everyone,” Google’s diversity boss, Brown, told Business Insider in a statement. “While we’re moving in the right direction, we are determined to accelerate progress.”

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