According to a report from Forbes, tech giant Google has significantly cut back its internal diversity and inclusion program after fears that it may appear “anti-conservative” have emerged.
Big Tech is no stranger to accusations of championing a progressive political bias. But as former employees spoke with NBC News, they informed how the behemoth company scaled back on diversity and inclusion.
Google has since denied the accusations.
Seven former and current Google employees spoke of a popular program under the name “Sojourn”–that was cut entirely–which was “a comprehensive racial justice program created for employees to learn about implicit bias and how to navigate conversations about race and inequality,” according to NBC News.
The internal programs began their cutbacks in 2018, some of which were fully eliminated the following year. The team responsible for the diversity and inclusion programs were scythed down and some of the workload has been outsourced.
One anonymous Google employee told NBC, “One of the major motivations for cutting Sojourn is that the company doesn’t want to be seen as anti-conservative.”
Forbes gave a brief chronology of the public prominence of Google’s internal diversity policies:
In 2017, a 10-page memo created by then-software engineer James Damore titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” became public, and it claimed in part that women were biologically unsuited for engineering work. It led to Damore’s being fired. In January 2018, Damore filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination against Google, with similar claims coming from others in filings against the company. Those suits, combined with a 2018 Breitbart article claiming Google violated its own policies — by having a speaker talk about how white people can navigate racism in the workplace — are what led to the eventual downfall of its diversity efforts, the former employees told NBC News
Google’s chief diversity officer Melonie Parker said, “We’re really maturing our programs to make sure we’re building our capability,” in light of the accusation against Google’s rollback of their programs.
Although Google’s workforce has become slightly more racial diverse in recent years, the company has drawn criticism for its disproportionately White and Asian employee base.