Google’s Annual Diversity Report Revealed Incremental Progress Across the Board

33.2% of the company’s 2018 hires were women, up from 31.3% in 2017

Google focused on improving representation for Black+ and Latinx+ employees in 2018. Getty Images

Google released its annual diversity report, revealing modest gains by women, Black+ and Latinx+ groups in hiring in 2018 and overall representation in 2019.

The tech giant’s results mirrored those recently reported by other companies in the sector, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest: slow progress and acknowledgement of the need to do more.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are business imperatives for Google. They improve outcomes for our employees, our products and our users,” vice president of employee engagement Danielle Brown and global director of diversity, equity and inclusion Melonie Parker said in the report’s introduction. “That’s why we are building on last year’s enhanced strategy, with clear lines of accountability for Google’s leaders. We are committed to a set of goals to increase workforce representation and to create a more inclusive culture.”

Women currently make up 31.6% of the tech giant’s global workforce, up from 30.9% in 2018.

Asian+ employees account for 39.8% of Google’s global workforce, Latinx+ employees for 5.7%, Black+ employees for 3.3% and Native American employees for 0.8%. All groups were up slightly except for Native American, which was flat year-over-year.

Women hold 26.1% of global leadership roles in 2019, up from 25.5% last year. Asian+ (28.9%), Latinx+ (3.3%) and Black+ (2.6%) groups all saw gains, while the Native American share of global leadership roles slipped to 0.7%.

For technical workers, women saw a significant gain from 21.4% globally in 2018 to 22.9% currently, while other minority groups experienced more modest increases.

Brown and Parker said Google focused on improving representation for Black+ and Latinx+ employees in 2018, achieving the largest gains since the company began publishing these reports in 2014. They added that last year’s progress only serves as a reminder of how much more needs to be done.

“The tech industry cannot meaningfully increase the diversity of its workforce simply by hiring each other’s talent,” Brown and Parker wrote. “That’s what often happens, but it doesn’t grow the pool of underrepresented talent. That’s why we continue to make long-term investments in education, so that we increase pathways to tech for underrepresented groups.”

“The tech industry cannot meaningfully increase the diversity of its workforce simply by hiring each other’s talent."
-Danielle Brown, vp of employee engagement, and Melonie Parker, global director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Google

Overall, global hiring was up across all groups in 2018 compared with 2017. However, the numbers were down for leadership hires among women, a well as Black+ and Native American groups. Asian+ and Latinx+ leadership hires were up year-over-year.

Tech hires in 2018 were up across the board year-over-year.

Google introduced a non-binary self-ID approach for gender data this year, saying the data was voluntarily provided by employees (and that it was not collected in cases where doing so is prohibited by local law or where the safety of its employees would be put at risk).

With 39% of its global workforce opting to self-ID, the company reported that 8.5% of that group self-identified as LGBQ+ and/or Trans+, 7.5% as having a disability, 5.2% as current or former military members and less than 1% as non-binary.

Brown and Parker concluded the report by detailing the three major things they learned this year.

First, systemic change is sustainable change, meaning that although even incremental progress in hiring, progression and retention is difficult to achieve, a holistic approach will help lead to sustainable, meaningful progress.

Second, Google believes data “is an important catalyst for change and indicator of progress,” which is why it publishes these annual reports and shares departmental representation data with the company’s senior leadership.

Finally, they cited the numerous employee resource groups available to Google’s global workforce, which focus both on improving the experiences of underrepresented groups and impacting the company’s products and offerings. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.