Google to support black businesses, steps up diversity efforts

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Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet.

Internet search giant Google has committed $175 million (R3 billion) to support black-owned businesses following widespread protests against racial discrimination and police brutality.

The company is also working to improve black representation at senior levels and committing to a goal to improve leadership representation of underrepresented groups by 30% by 2025.

In a statement yesterday, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, says over the past several weeks, violent and racist attacks against the black community have forced the world to reckon with the structural and systemic racism that black people have experienced over generations.

“My own search for answers started within our own walls. Listening to the personal accounts of members of our Black Leadership Advisory Group and our Black+ Googlers has only reinforced for me the reality our black communities face – one where systemic racism permeates every aspect of life, from interactions with law enforcement, to access to housing and capital, to healthcare, education and the workplace,” Pichai says.

Sustainable, meaningful

As a company, and as individuals who came here to build helpful products for everyone, he notes, Google commits to translating the energy of this moment into lasting, meaningful change.

“Today, we are announcing a set of concrete commitments to move that work forward: internally, to build sustainable equity for Google’s Black+ community, and externally, to make our products and programmes helpful in the moments that matter most to black users.”

Beyond the Google products, the company knows that racial equity is inextricably linked to economic opportunity, Pichai says.

“So today we are announcing a $175 million economic opportunity package to support black business owners, start-up founders, job-seekers and developers, in addition to YouTube’s $100 million fund to amplify black creators and artists.”

According to Pichai, this new commitment includes $50 million in financing and grants for small businesses, focused on the black community and in partnership with Opportunity Finance Network.

“This commitment builds on our recent $125 million Grow with Google Small Business Fund that is helping underserved minority and women-owned small businesses across the US,” he says.

The commitment also includes $100 million in funding participation in black-led capital firms, start-ups and organisations supporting black entrepreneurs, including increased investments in Plexo Capital and non-dilutive funding to black founders in the Google for Startups network.

It also comprises $15 million in training, through partners like the National Urban League, to help black job-seekers grow their skills; as well as $10 million to help improve the black community’s access to education, equipment and economic opportunities in the Google developer ecosystem, and increase equity, representation and inclusion across the company’s developer platforms, including Android, Chrome, Flutter, Firebase, Google Play and more.

Taking the lead

To improve black representation in the company’s leadership, Google says it will post senior leadership roles externally as well as internally, and increase investments in places such as Atlanta, Washington DC, Chicago and London, where it already has offices.

“We’ll take the same approach across regions, using site and country-specific plans to recruit and hire more underrepresented Googlers in communities where the social infrastructure already supports a sense of belonging and contributes to a better quality of life,” Pichai says.

“Second, we’ll do more to address representation challenges and focus on hiring, retention and promotion at all levels. To help direct that work, I’m establishing a new talent liaison within each product and functional area to mentor and advocate for the progression and retention of Googlers from underrepresented groups.

“I’m also convening a task force, including senior members of the Black+ community at Google, to develop concrete recommendations and proposals for accountability across all of the areas that affect the Black+ Googler experience, from recruiting and hiring, to performance management, to career progression and retention. I’ve asked the task force to come back with specific proposals (including measurable goals) within 90 days.”

Third, Pichai says, Google is working to create a stronger sense of inclusion and belonging for Googlers in general and its Black+ community in particular.

“Our internal research shows that feelings of belonging are driven by many aspects of our experiences at work, including the psychological safety we feel among our teams, the support of our managers and leaders, equitable people processes, and opportunities to grow and develop our careers. Across all of these dimensions, we’re committed to building more inclusive practices and policies − and revisiting them when we don’t get them right.”

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