back to article Google TOO WHITE and MALE, says HR boss, looking in mirror

Google has published its first report on the diversity of its workforce, and the web giant admits it has a lot of work to do. The online ad-slinger revealed its findings on Wednesday, revealing how its employees break down along gender and ethnic lines for the first time. Predictably, perhaps, the report found that Google was in …

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Re: HHHMMMNNN...

While I think Google does do some evil, I don't think this is an example of it. They point out they have a disproportionate (to the US population) representation of African Americans and Hispanics. Well, they also have a disproportionate (high) representation of Asians and Indians.

So if they need to find and hire more of those they have too few of, does that mean they need to hold back on hiring those they have too many of in an attempt to balance out their racial mix? What should they target, the whole of the US, California, or Silicon Valley?

It is one thing to actively try to recruit minorities, and fill roles in management and HR to (attempt to) insure colorblind/raceblind hiring and promotion practices. But you can't compensate for the fact there are a far smaller percentage of African Americans and Hispanics who are qualified for many of the positions at Google relative to other races. That's a structural/educational problem in the US, not something corporate America can fix by itself.

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Re: HHHMMMNNN...

While true, sometimes the hard decision is to train people up from the start. But I don't think even Google has the resources to do that. As you say, you can change yourself, but not the world around you.

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Re: HHHMMMNNN...

I work as Director IT and I hire for my company.

Had a help desk position open and we interviewed five qualified people. They turned out to be two white males, two black (male and female), and an Asian lady.

The Asian woman never showed even though she had confirmed by both phone and email. Subsequent attempts to contact her failed.

The black male came to the interview in jeans, crooked ball cap, and flash black T-shirt with gold chains aplenty. He had tattoos up the side of his neck and SUCK MINE tattooed between the knuckles of his hands. He had passed his A+ (barely) but otherwise had the basic requisite skills needed. The HR person sitting in on the interview had "concerns" about his appearance. We checked his job history and found he had grossly overstated the time he had been employed with another company by several years. The missing time had actually been spent at her majesties pleasure for a drugs offense.

The black female came in dressed professionally, presented herself well, and had the requisite skills. Previously checked her background / references and all seemed good. She had more experience as a receptionist than computers. Ten minutes into the interview her bejeweled iPhone buzzed. She picked it up, smiled broadly, tapped a few lines, and put it back in her purse. Same thing happened four times during the interview. When HR asked her for salary expectations, the salary range she named came close to mine. We mentioned her references were good and without prompting she volunteered that two of them were family. Her mother and auntie to be specific with different last names than her.

The first white male we interviewed had excellent references and had many IT / IS courses with high marks. On paper he was my first choice for the position due to the quals. He was ten minutes late, slouched in the chair, mumbled, had half open eyes, and looked like he'd come straight from a rave. He had ketchup down his shirt front from the bacon sarnie he'd grabbed on the run "because I overslept this morning."

Second white male was a half hour early for his interview. He had a bare resume and a few IT courses with above average marks. He said he was currently working two part-time jobs and hadn't had the time to take more training, but was willing to learn. He looked me in the eye when he spoke, his cell phone buzzed a few times, but it never left his hip and his salary request was reasonable. I got the feeling he was a genuine and trustworthy person. When HR asked him what his weaknesses were he said, "Well, as you've probably noticed, I'm ginger." Sense of humour. We hired him and he's worked his way up to being the IT Manager and today he runs things in my absence.

I don't give a damn what you look like, or what your personal situation is. As long as someone is honest, motivated, and willing to work then I'll probably hire them. What you look like is secondary to your ability and willingness to do the job we are paying you to do. I'm not your father, I'm not your counselor, I'm your boss, and I expect you to show up on time, do your job, do your personal business outside of company time, and admit responsibility when things go wrong.

Unfortunately for some, that is asking too much.

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Stop

Re: HHHMMMNNN...

"When HR asked him what his weaknesses were "

The correct answer is 'Kryptonite', although your man's ginger response is pretty good too...

I strongly recommend Stuart Sutherland's book, 'Irrationality'. Among the many interesting topics, there's a section all about job interviews, and how they are largely useless, and the best candidate is rarely chosen, due to the subtle biases of the interviewers. The 'ginger bloke' anecdote above is an example of how a good candidate was selected who went on to do well, but we have no way of knowing if the same interviewer has chosen many other crap employees, or whether the interviewer nurtured the guy to help him along, given that he selected him and so had an investment in the decision. We also have no idea if the other candidates would have worked out just as well, if not better. Sutherland points out that interviewers often rely on 'intuition' which is an awful way to choose someone. He shows the ridiculousness of someone believing that a 30 minute interview is a better way of choosing someone than rating them on the results of months or years of study grades. Often, interviewers make a first impression of someone, and then the rest of the interview is spent on confirming that opinion.

He recommends that the way to select people is to look at their exam results and training, and give them a test to do. However, the interview is so entrenched in western culture, even psychologists, who should know better, continue to use them.

The book is a great read, give it a go.

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Re: HHHMMMNNN...

Great post and fantastic anecdote, but HR should feel bad. HR are often a bunch of oxygen-thieves.

This: "HR asked him what his weaknesses were" was a horrific read. Nobody should ask these clichéd bullshit questions, they're meaningless, as shown by the answer.

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Re: HHHMMMNNN...

IMHO, the book is great, but this particular advice is not always right --- sometimes choosing someone on first impressions is the right thing to do: a receptionist, a salesperson, and a complaint handler, for instance, will pretty much be rated by all your customers on first impressions too.

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Paris Hilton

Re: HHHMMMNNN...

@John, well, that's true if you believe all your customers have the same first impressions as you (the interviewer) do. Confirmation bias at all? :-)

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And what is wrong with majority male and white workforce?

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Trollface

Nothing if you are living in a society where the majority of the whole population is male and white.

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"Nothing if you are living in a society where the majority of the whole population is male and white."

Let me fix that for you: "Nothing if you are living in a society in which the majority of people choosing to enter the relevant professions is male and white."

By your logic, there should be equal numbers of men and women in every profession since you're assuming that the whole population is equally distributed across all professions. There's a reason why you see more male programmers and more female child-care workers; that is, that despite the most intense insistence of feminists, gender does in fact predispose people towards different walks of life. Men and women think differently as a result of their gender. Nothing, not the most fanatical political correctness nor the most vehement ranting about stereotypes, can alter this simple psychological fact. That's not to say that women can't be programmers or men can't be childcare workers. It's simply that the majority of them freely choose not to be.

When 50% of people choosing and completing IT courses at universities are female (without imposing artificial gender quotas and turning men away simply because they are men), only then do you have the right to whine if the employment figures don't match the graduation rates.

Your comment reminds me of one of those meme images I saw recently, which had a picture of a stereotypically feminist-looking woman and was captioned something like this:

Top: "Complains that only 21% of programmers are female" - Bottom: "Majored in gender studies and English literature"

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Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

Gender, according to feminists, does not predispose anyone to anything. The argument is that we are conditioned from the minute we are born to fulfil gender roles. Little boys are encouraged to be bold, girls are encouraged to be quiet and behave. Boys are considered to be better at rational problem-solving, women are presumed to be more empathetic, and so each type of behaviour is drilled into tiny brains until it 'takes'. It seems as if it must be Nature, doesn't it-- we are born this way. And society actively polices this. Ask any woman (hi) who has walked into a male-only work environment. Or watch the dominant group (white, male, straight) gang up on the 'outsider' (woman, or gay male, or non-white.)

I am good at what I do and I like it and I get paid very well, but sometimes I think 'fuck it', when once again the white lads are acting as if everyone in the room thinks just like them, that they are the standard and everyone else deviates.

Mr Roper, quoting a meme is not proof of anything.

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Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

> Gender, according to feminists, does not predispose anyone to anything.

Gender, according to non-feminists, does predispose a preference to certain roles.

I won't deny that stereotypical attitudes impinge on the preferences of the genders in society at the moment, but you'd have to be friggin' mental to not realise that gender does indeed have an impact. Any teacher, any parent of girls and boys (we have one of both) will tell you that until puberty, they are pretty evenly matched, but afterwards they might as well be different species.

There is a difference between saying a woman can't program (which is patently stupid, because I know a number of very good ones), and saying that the females generally have a different *average* psychological disposition.

You might just as well say that all men and women should compete in physical sports on a level playing field. There are strong women and there are weak men, but overall, one has a natural advantage on average.

The whole discussion is arse about face anyway. We should be commending those women and men that use their natural skills to their advantage in whatever they choose to do. My wife is a nurse, not only physically but mentally and emotionally demanding, a job which I certainly would not even begin to be able to deal with.

There is enough equality in society at all levels. Let's not make a load of extra shit up as well.

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Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

". It seems as if it must be Nature, doesn't it-- we are born this way"

Partly, it is. Evolution selected some kind of differences between sexes - physical, emotional, attitudinal. Like many other animals, we have gender differences. Being different doesn't mean to be "something more" or "something less" - it just mean "different", and usually with a different skill set.

If it hadn't probably we would not have separate sex at all. If someone wants to stop gender "inequality" denying it, he or she will just create more damage than he or she would like to repair. Only if this difference is accepted, while all obstacles in choosing what someone prefers to do are removed gender "inequality" will become smaller - but never expect men and women become exactly the same in a few years, or even centuries. Maybe in some hundred thousand or million years there will be only hermaphrodites and there will be no gender inequality...

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Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

@Hollerith: Thank you for proving my point about feminists being in denial about human nature. You fail to take into account that even though feminism and its related critical-theory forms of political correctness have been in force in schools now for over 30 years, boys still choose for the most part to play with cars and girls still choose for the most part to play with dolls. Three generations of children now have had the principles of feminism dinned into them from day dot and it hasn't affected their play choices. That's because ten thousand generations of evolution have predisposed each gender for the roles it has been adapted by its environment to carry out. That is as incontestable a fact as the law of gravity, no matter how sanctimoniously you and your kind rant and rave and jump up and down about it.

As to my quoting memes, proving an argument and illustrating a point are two different literary techniques with different purposes. Unlike you, I am not constrained to expressing myself solely within the dictates of critical theory.

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Japan

I wonder if Google Japan is mostly white and male? Probably only half of that?

And Google India probably has a much higher proportion of women in non-trivial positions in its workforce than equivalent Google branches in Western Europe or North America.

I somehow can't imagine Google as being racist. They just want the most highly qualified, clever people.

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Male HR Boss

Any company that has a man in HR should be celebrated for diversity.

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>Top: "Complains that only 21% of programmers are female" - Bottom: "Majored in gender studies and English literature"

Any chance of a link to this?

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Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

Little boys are encouraged to be bold, girls are encouraged to be quiet and behave. Boys are considered to be better at rational problem-solving, women are presumed to be more empathetic, and so each type of behaviour is drilled into tiny brains until it 'takes'. It seems as if it must be Nature, doesn't it-- we are born this way. And society actively polices this.

Oh FFS. Males and females are different. We are genetically distinct, we generally have different body structures and shapes and our brains are generally wired up differently. This doesn't mean that there aren't exceptions to the rule and that there are crossovers on the physical or mental level, but that in general males and females are predisposed to certain activities. This doesn't make this wrong, just a recognition of the facts. Visit any human trash area or, more accurately, areas where it is common that parenting is considered something for somebody else to do, and you'll quickly notice that it's not a rule that boys are bold and girls are quiet.

Ask any woman (hi) who has walked into a male-only work environment. Or watch the dominant group (white, male, straight) gang up on the 'outsider' (woman, or gay male, or non-white.)

Here we have the usual racist, sexist response. This is very rarely a racist or sexist issue, it's a grouping, "gang", if you like, issue. It doesn't matter if you are black, brown, white, male, female, gay or straight, intrude into an area dominated by a distinct group of people and if you don't fit in, you will be isolated and, often, abused in some manner. This is, unfortunately, how such groups work and you can either adhere to the group's predispositions or work, socially, to break down barriers. I've personally seen an office of "brown" female co-workers mercilessly taunt and abuse a "white" male co-worker, a group of "brown" make workers abuse a sole "black" co-worker, a small group of mixed-sex "brown" co-workers isolate themselves from a larger group of mixed sex "white" co-workers and then cry discrimination when they weren't included in social events yet excluding the others from what they considered to be their "own" events.

It's a crude generalisation, but some of the most racist people I know are "minorities" who have appalling views on the "majorities" and mountain sized chips on their shoulders to match. The worst case was some trash on twitter who claimed that "it wasn't possible to be racist to a majority."

(and in case anybody cares, the use of black, brown or white here is just descriptive and it's a hell of a lot easier than recording "Irish, Welsh, Cornish, English, Brittany French, Scandinavian, Andalusian, Spanish, and every other national / identity grouping that you care to think of).

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That's a straw man - no one's saying that every company must have exactly equal proportions.

There is surely a medium between "every computer company being dominated by men" and "every computer company must have exactly 50%".

Not that I necessarily blame companies, I suspect a lot of the problems start early, just look at any toy shop and see what boys are encouraged to play with versus girls - but it is still good to keep track of these statistics.

And whilst there are biological differences, I don't think there's evidence to say that men are more biological predisposed to computer jobs, certainly not to the extent to explain the differences you see. It's hard to see what the evolutionary reason for this would be, also consider how many early programmers were women. I hope you have references for this "simple psychological fact"?

"When 50% of people choosing and completing IT courses at universities are female (without imposing artificial gender quotas and turning men away simply because they are men), only then do you have the right to whine if the employment figures don't match the graduation rates."

You're accusing people of being politically correct, but _you're_ the one saying people don't even have a right to "whine"?

I think all this says is that it's not the fault of the companies - but it's still reasonable to then ask why we then have the inbalance in education.

"Your comment reminds me of one of those meme images I saw recently, which had a picture of a stereotypically feminist-looking woman and was captioned something like this:"

Your comment reminds me of a straw man argument that's completely irrelevant to the topic. Did the OP major in gender studies? If you're suggesting that most men in IT like it being male dominated - well, I don't know if it's true, but I hope not. I'd rather it not be one of those sad male-only morris dancing clubs.

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Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

"and saying that the females generally have a different *average* psychological disposition."

But can you show that a different average psychological disposition explains away the 80% male domination in an IT company, without relying on social differences?

Of course there are trivially biological differences, but it doesn't follow that any difference must be due to biological differences. Different species doesn't even make scientific sense.

And why do the comments focus on the issue of gender? Are you going to say that there are biological differences to races too?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

Visit a kibbutz sometime. There are no gender specific roles and zero gender bias by definition and design.

Result:

Little boys pull things apart, put them back together, destroying stuff, running around wildly etc. and generally display the traits of children with a lot of testosterone to burn (as any understanding of human chemistry and behaviour would predict).

Little girls tend to form little girl groups and play with dolls and do girl things.

This is not a 100% split, tomboys exists as well as "gentle" boys. But the general division is clear.

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Re: Japan

"I wonder if Google Japan is mostly white and male?"

Colour code check: Japanese are in fact for the most part very white.They are considerably whiter than Caucasians in fact. "White" is not a particularly good way to describe Caucasians.

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Re: Japan

Wait a minute - we've had a whole load of comments above, highly voted up, arguing as if it was clear as mud, that men are _biologically_ more predisposed to want to work for IT companies.

Yet here you are pointing out that Google in India has a higher proportion of women. So wait, are the rules about biology different in India then?

Presumably your point is that it's not Google at fault, but an issue with the societies - which is a fair point and one I'd agree with, but then, that's still an argument that there are social differences at fault, rather than it being purely biological differences as everyone above is insisting.

(And logically, another possible option is that it's only a problem with Google in some countries - Google is not a single entity, and the people who make up "Google" in different countries will be different. It could be that some parts of Google have issues, and not others. But yes, I suspect the issues are not primarily due to Google, but due to wider issues.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

"Of course there are trivially biological differences, but it doesn't follow that any difference must be due to biological differences."

While this is logically correct, the mistake is the word "trivial". The differences are not at all trivial, as decades of research demonstrates. We (male/female) are chemically, electrically and physiologically different in so many fundamental ways that the idea that we (m/f) should be "equally represented" in areas where these differences can determine success/failure is fundamentally broken. It is a "noble idea" borne aloft by politics, not by knowledge or understanding.

Evolutionary theory supports the notion that male and female evolution is the result of two different, but successful paths.

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@Mark

" ... no one's saying that every company must have exactly equal proportions."

you need to get out more. There are lots of powerful forces saying exactly that!

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Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

> But can you show that a different average psychological disposition explains away the 80% male domination in an IT company, without relying on social differences?

No. I believe that I said that a number of factors are at play here, one of which is undeniably biological. To what extent that plays a role is difficult to say and I wouldn't make any grand statements on that matter...

> Of course there are *trivially* biological differences,

...although obviously you feel that you can. Figures and studies please?

> Different species doesn't even make scientific sense.

That's obviously hyperbole. I think most people here understand that.

> And why do the comments focus on the issue of gender? Are you going to say that there are biological differences to races too?

There clearly are biological differences between races otherwise they would not be different races.

I'm not sure what point you're making here.

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Re: Japan

You are correct. I was being lazy.

Japanese people, in my experience, have skin colour that ranges from sallow to very dark brown. I should used the term «East Asian» instead.

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Re: Japan

It is just my experience. Most of the women whom I've met so far who work in the technical end of IT have been Russian or Indian.

My guess is that in India, interest in IT is more class-based. If the family is wealthy enough and the girls interested enough, there are few barriers to young women going to college and studying computer science. I am further guessing that the best and brightest of these are more than welcome in Google India. I am open to correction on this.

My point is that societal norms play a big role, but not necessarily a dominant one, in the choice of women entering IT. If a woman in France or America wishes to become a programmer or sysadmin, there is little to stop her, assuming that she has the means to do so.

What is more of a problem to women is the fact that their husbands rarely can or will work part time and share the burden of housework and childcare, but this problem is not at all unique to women programmers.

If Google wants its share of the female cream of the IT world, they should offer creche facilities on campus. Let the parents bring their child there. If Google can make the life of the parents easier by greatly helping with creche and schooling provisioning, then they will be very desirable to employees who are parents of small children.

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Anonymous Coward

Wot no Oompa Loompas?

(ducks)

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Joke

There is a good solution for this

Just outsource the development to Nigeria. They have good IT skills. At least they know how to send e-mail.

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Re: There is a good solution for this

They can send email, but they can't construct a sentence!

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Re: There is a good solution for this

Nor can most managers but it never stops them from hitting the 'send' button.

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Not very useful stats?

So they have more men than women and are heavy on Asians at the expense of Hispanics/Latinos. Hardly surprising for a geeky American tech company. The proportion of whites does not seem to be too out of line for US.

I suspect the statistics of who actually work there are not very telling or useful for guiding the company's hiring policies. What about the demographics of applicants who get hired or rejected after personal interviews (as opposed to screening techniques that are designed to be gender- and ethnically blind and anonymous)? What about the statistics of non-anonymous CVs that are binned by HR - are females or Hispanics more likely to get rejected early? Is the ethnic mix wildly different from the relevant university departments? If they develop some measures along such lines and find out there is a bias they they can start thinking there may be a problem to address.

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Re: Not very useful stats?

Nice to see a scientific argument amongst a sea of feminist/anti-feminist comments :-)

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"Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity"

Clearly, they have a lot of catching up to do if they want to be as profitable and successful as companies like, say Ford Motors and HP.

Those two bastions of corporate diversity and political correctness are prime examples of how corporate innovation and profitablity is hugely improved by assembling vast HR departments that are dedicated to cataloging their employees by race, colour, gender and sexual alignment and then ensuring that all catagories are equally represented on the payroll*.

Actual ability is not important of course

This is clearly the best way to ensure immense profits and only a heteronormative white male rascist, sexist, homophobe would suggest otherwise.

</sarc>

* white males excluded of course

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Not surprising: IT tech is still something white and asian males like, others still don't.

I'm not surprised at all. It you look at the "stereotypical nerd", it's white or asian, and male. Look at "Big Bang Theory" too - why the "nerds" are three whites and one asian males (both female scientists are white too)? Because it exactly mirrors actual society. Had the writers made a group of afro-americans and hispanic guys, it would have looked false.

Hispanic and afro-american are far less attracted by the tech landscape than the other groups. Probably because they often come from poor families, but not always. It's often a matter of "social group culture" that forces them to ignore a field which their own group see as a "loser stigma" (wrongly, given the money you can do is this job...). If this has to be changed, you can start from the top of the pyramid. You need to work at the foundations, and change that culture that keeps those people away from this kind of job.

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Re: Not surprising: IT tech is still something white and asian males like, others still don't.

I know an Asian female astrophysicist who works in IT. She is very atypical.

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R69

Diversity is bollocks

Whatever happened to employing the best candidate for a given job - is that not genuinely the fairest thing to do.

Can discrimintation ever be positive....?

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Facepalm

Re: Diversity is bollocks

Yes, it can. As you've just so eloquently put, when it's based on the ability of a candidate to do the job.

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Trollface

Re: Diversity is bollocks

quote: "Yes, it can. As you've just so eloquently put, when it's based on the ability of a candidate to do the job."

Aptitudist! Discrimination based upon a person's aptitude for a certain role is abhorrent, and must be stopped. There should be an equal distribution of aptitude across all roles, and the only truly fair method of candidate selection is to roll dice against a list of all people in the country. Whoever's number comes up gets the job (regardless of what they were doing previously).

Doing so would also fairly distribute wealth, as you could be moved from a low paying role to a high paying one, or vice-versa, at random, as soon as the role becomes available. It is an infallible system, I tell you!

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Anonymous Coward

Aptitudist?

There was a book, loosely adapted into film about this. Has a sad ending...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2081_%28film%29

I'd hope it was against falsely applying equality. As no one in their right mind would be against rightly applying equality. But sadly, sometimes, people can see themselves as overly important compared to others. I'd not judge the author either way here though.

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Re: Diversity is bollocks

"skin color" statistics are about as relevant as "color of their cars" statistics. irrelevant for the job.

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Re: Diversity is bollocks

Likewise chromosomic makeup. Either the person is fit for the job; or not. Race, sex, religion, football team or any other "identifier" will not indicate suitability for a job.

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Re: Diversity is bollocks

Can discrimintation ever be positive....?

Occasionally, yes. For example, police "liaison officers" (or whatever they've been rebranded this week) need to have representatives for any of the isolationist communities that they need to deal with. On the other hand, you could put this as part of the job description role rather than the selection process.

If we're not careful, we'll have 78 year old male pole dancers... :)

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Joke

This explains...

This explains why they are doing so much to provide services to their employees in San Francisco. :D

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Interests

On the sex thing, more men choose to study Engineering than women... because more men are interested in Engineering than women, on the whole.

Eg. When I was 18 or 19 I stayed up all night programming on several occasions. You might have done this too, but if you did you are probably a guy. Women could do this if they wanted, but don't. The issue is one of interest and aptitude, not ability.

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Anonymous Coward

yeah whatever

How many women do you know who have been fascinated by code since before they were teens, giving up their social status to learn how machines work, and didn't decide to become "coders" halfway through college when convinced to do so by social engineering and the fact their previous dreams of being a "veterenarian" or "designer" were either saturated or required too much more education?

I know three. And all of them were hired by Amazon or Google within days of submitting a resume.

I still see an appalling lack of fat old white guys in the NBA and NFL. Lack of diversity and source of outrage? that would be stupid. Lack of appropriate skills and talent? you betcha.

Like a recent shooting, you can have a thousand men not qualifying in a thousand fields, but find one where women don't qualify where they want to, and it's drama, outrage, and "sexism!"

You know where else you see very few women? Garbage collection. Heavy equipment mechanics, sewer and septic maintenance. Plenty of other stinky/gross/dangerous/unglamorous jobs with decent pay but little growth potential.

Women don't want those jobs though. so no complaints. Men to the ditch digging, save the clean stuff for the womenfolk?

Seems all the "pro" groups are all about raising drama about what the people they claim to support cannot do, while refusing to tell these same people how they can. I guess the professional feminists would be out of a job then, and want to be at google rather than cleaning sewer mains.

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Re: yeah whatever

>You know where else you see very few women? Garbage collection.

But when you do, you know they're serious. And, incidentally, they're almost always pretty buff.

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Oh nooo! Google is hiring White Males...the horror, Boo Google Boo....

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