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Google Shareholders Quash Racial-Equity Audit As Tech Giant Deals With Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

A racial-equity audit was one of 17 proposals rejected by Alphabet Inc. shareholders.

Alphabet Inc. is Google’s parent company. The “no” decision was handed down at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on June 1, MarketWatch reported.

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April Christina Curley, a former diversity recruiter at Google, is suing the tech giant. (Photo: LinkedIn)

The virtual meeting lasted more than two hours and was streamed on Alphabet’s YouTube video channel. During the meeting, Alphabet investors made several proposals, including requesting a racial-equity audit and pushing for a report on board diversity. 

There had been an outside push for Google to conduct an audit.

Laura Campos, director of the corporate and political accountability program The Nathan Cummings Foundation, which supported the audit proposal, told MarketWatch in a recorded statement that the foundation was “concerned that Alphabet has some major blind spots when it comes to the adverse impacts of its operations and products on people of color.”

“The fundamental disconnects between Alphabet’s perception of its own impacts, the conclusions of multiple pieces of research, and, most importantly, the lived experiences of impacted communities highlight the need for a third-party audit to assess and clarify the company’s impacts racial equity,” she added to MarketWatch.

While the audit was voted down, Google has yet to address its diversity issue. Diversity still remains a problem in Silicon Valley, despite pledges by most tech giants to increase diversity in their ranks. At Google, Black people comprise just 4.4 percent of employees.

In March a lawsuit was filed claiming the company gives Black workers lower-level jobs and pays them less. The lawsuit accuses the company of a “racially biased corporate culture” in which whites are favored for promotions.

The lawsuit accuses Google of systemic racial bias against Black employees, saying the company steers them to lower-level jobs, pays them less, and denies them opportunities to advance because of their race, The Guardian reported.

In the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, the claimant says Google maintains a “racially biased corporate culture” that favors white men, where Black people comprise only about 3 percent of leadership and its technology workforce.

The plaintiff, former diversity recruiter April Christina Curley, also said Google subjected Black employees to a hostile work environment. Curley said Google had fired her in September 2020 after she and her colleagues began working on a list of desired reforms.

Curley’s lawsuit came on the heels of California officials beginning an investigation into the company’s treatment of Black female employees. 

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