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Google facing probe for how it treats Black female workers: Report

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San Francisco, Dec 18 (IANS) The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is probing how Google treats its Black female employees, the media reported.

The US regulator has been asking Google workers questions about harassment and discrimination after receiving formal complaints, reports The Verge.

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According to its recent diversity report, Black women make up around 1.8 per cent of Google’s workforce, and there is “room for improvement”.

In reference to the ongoing probe, a Google spokesperson said that the tech giant has invested in retention programmes to “make Google a more welcoming place for Black employees”.

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“Our goal is to ensure that every employee experiences Google as an inclusive workplace and we’ve been focused on building sustainable equity for Google’s Black community. For example, 2020 was our largest year ever for hiring Black+ Googlers in the US — “both overall and in tech roles,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The probe comes at a time when Google has been criticised several times for gender discrimination and harassment at workplace.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) researcher Timnit Gebru, who was fired from Google after sending an email of concern to her Ethical AI team, has now set up her own research institute that will be an independent, community-rooted institute set to counter Big Tech’s pervasive influence on the research, development and deployment of AI.

Gebru was the technical co-lead of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence team. She was fired over an email where she expressed her doubts about Google’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.

Two Google engineers, including one of Indian-origin, quit Google over the abrupt firing of Gebru.

While engineering director David Baker said that Gebru’s dismissal “extinguished” his will to work at the company, software engineer Vinesh Kannan announced that he was quitting because Gebru and April Christina Curley, a diversity recruiter, were “wronged”.

Both Gebru and Curley were known for their advocacy for increased diversity in the tech industry.

Several Google employees have said that the company allegedly suggested them to go for mental health counselling or apply leave when they complained about racism or sexual harassment at workplace.

According to a report in NBC News earlier this year, Google’s human resources (HR) department encouraged them to take mental health leave, even when their complaints were unrelated to such concerns.

–IANS

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