April Glaser, CNBC, May 18, 2020
Ten House Democrats sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday demanding answers about an NBC News investigation alleging that Google has significantly decreased its diversity and inclusion initiatives since 2018, because of what sources said was a fear of being perceived as biased against conservatives.
The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois, includes a list of questions about what diversity and inclusion workforce training programs Google has cut, what type of diversity training is offered to new hires and how Google is working to build diversity programs for its global workforce.
Google denied having cut its diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“Any suggestion that we have scaled back or cut our diversity efforts is entirely false,” a Google spokesperson said. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a company wide commitment and our programs are continuing to scale up.”
Last week, NBC News reported that Google has cut multiple diversity and inclusion programs and the teams responsible for those programs had been reduced in size, according to six former and current employees. Seven former and current employees across a range of teams and roles at Google all said they believed the company reduced its diversity and inclusion work to shield the company from backlash from conservatives.
One source, a former Google employee who asked not to be named because she is not permitted to speak with the press about her former employer, recalled that her team, which focused on artificial intelligence research at Google, was told in 2018 that they would no longer receive updates about the team’s progress on diversity. She was told by a research director that “conversations about diversity could become a liability” at the company, she said.
The House members specifically asked in their letter if employees working in artificial intelligence undergo additional bias training.