Google claims equal pay across genders and races, but that may not be entirely true


If you ask Google, its employees are being paid equally for their work, regardless of race or sex. Google shareholder Arjuna Capital thinks otherwise.

In a blog post Thursday, Google revealed a study looking into how much its employees are paid across different groups. It even gave the public a peek into the methodology. “Our analyses covered every job group with at least 30 Googlers total and at least five Googlers per demographic group for which we have data (e.g., at least five men and at least five women),” the post says. Though Arjuna Capital — the North Carolina-based group that requested Google look into this to begin with — claims it still doesn’t include enough of Google’s workers.

According to a press release, “the data only extends to VP level because employees above that pay grade do not fit the criteria. Therefore, Google’s gender pay gap analysis leaves 11% of employees out.” While job titles with more than 30 employees are included in Google’s study, this missing 11% includes higher-up positions like senior vice president and above — positions that could reveal a huge difference between how men and women are paid.

The pay gap across racial and gender groups is a problem Google is familiar with. In January, a lawsuit on this very issue was brought to Google, six months after the company was accused of drastic pay discrimination by the U.S. Department of Labor. Not to mention the now infamous 2015 salary spreadsheet started by former Google employee Erica Baker. The spreadsheet allowed employees to anonymously chime in with their salary and compare with their fellow coworkers, revealing vast pay differences for the same work.

It isn’t just Google. Microsoft has been called out for underpaying female employees. Uber sees discrepancies amongst its male and female employees as well, at the corporate level and even among those on the road. Companies like Amazon have touted a mostly equal rate of pay, but some have criticized the fact that very few women work there at all.

The problem even exists outside the tech industry. Bloomberg reported recent findings from Goldman Sachs that show women at the company are generally paid half as much as their male co-workers. The study points to yet another problem: The most lucrative positions are largely closed off to women, as only 10% to 12% of women make up the job’s highest rank. It’s data like this Google’s wage gap study leaves out.

Studies from from Fenwick and West in 2014 show that executive positions in Silicon Valley breakdown to 89% men and 11% women.

According to more recent data, of the 16 Fortune 500 companies that agreed to release their full diversity stats, 80% of the higher-up executives are men — 72% of whom are white. It’s possible that Google’s executive-level positions numbers aren’t much better. We currently don’t know since as the search company doesn’t include this info.

It’s disappointing that Google’s data omits this information, but Google publicly looking into this problem is a good thing. Previously, it refused to discuss pay data. Google wasn’t the only internet company to do so, as Facebook joined them in this stance. While the numbers revealed may not be to Arjuna Capital’s liking, Google’s willingness to crunch the numbers out in the open, and even show their work, is a step in the right direction.