Google Employees Compile Data Illustrating Gender Wage Gap

September 19, 2017 12:43 pm

By Kaitlyn D’Onofrio

Publicly discussing salaries has long been regarded as taboo in the workplace. But a handful of Google employees have rejected this notion, unearthing further evidence of unequal wages at the company.

Nearly 1,200 Google staff members in the United States — roughly 2 percent of the company’s global workforce — reported their salaries and bonuses in an employee-generated spreadsheet. The data, obtained by the New York Times, illustrates disparities in pay at varying levels.

Google Employee Salary Data

Level One
Women: $40,300
Men: $55,900

Level Two
Women: $76,600
Men: $71,200

Level Three
Women: $106,700
Men: $112,400

Level Four
Women: $125,000
Men: $136,600

Level Five
Women: $153,500
Men: $162,200

Level Six
Women: $193,200
Men: $197,600

Source: NY Times

At level one, women make less than three-quarters of what men earn. The only exception in the data provided is at level two, where the men who self-reported earn 93 percent of what the women earn.

Google Employee Bonus Data

Level One
Women: $3,600
Men: $6,900

Level Two
Women: $7,900
Men: $12,100

Level Three
Women: $17,300
Men: $16,900

Level Four
Women: $24,700
Men: $24,400

Level Five
Women: $31,000
Men: $33,200

Level Six
Women: $40,700
Men: $47,800

Source: NY Times

According to a former Google employee who reported information to Quora, levels one through three are considered entry-level, levels four through five are mid-career and level six is late career. Managerial roles begin at level four. The employee spreadsheet therefore does not account for senior-level positions, which begin at level seven.

Google has never applied to complete in the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity competition.

Women make up 31 percent of Google’s total employees but only occupy 20 percent of tech roles and a quarter of leadership positions. Women of color represent even less of the company, as Blacks and Hispanics comprise just 2 and 4 percent, respectively, of Google’s total workforce. Hispanics and Blacks represent 3 and 1 percent, respectively, of Google’s tech workers. For leadership jobs, Hispanics and Blacks each represent 2 percent. Among the DiversityInc Top 50, women represent 46.3 percent of the whole workforce and 32.7 percent of senior management, and Blacks, Latinos and Asians make up 15.6 percent of senior managers.

Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) board of directors is about one quarter female. One of the four women on the 15-member board is Shirley Tilghman, former president of Princeton University. While working at Princeton, Tilghman hired Maria Klawe, who now serves as president of Harvey Mudd College, as a dean. When discussing salary, Klawe told Tilghman, “Just pay me what you think is right” — and then grossly underpaid her compared to the other deans.

The data collection for Google reflects 2017 pay data, but the spreadsheet was started in 2015 by former Google employee Erica Baker, reported USA Today, which also viewed the spreadsheet. Baker told USA Today that she would “encourage [Google] to understand and eliminate the biased practices in place that result in pay disparities,” noting that the salary data should already be made available to employees without them having to compile it themselves.

A spokeswoman for the company described the data as “extremely flawed” in a statement to Business Insider.

A new lawsuit filed this month officially charges Google with discriminating against its female workers by “segregating” them into lower-paying positions.

According to the suit, Google “systematically” pays women less than men “performing substantially similar work.” It also accuses Google of “assigning and keeping women in job ladders and levels with lower compensation ceilings and advancement opportunities” than people with similar backgrounds and responsibilities.

In April the Labor Department accused Google of “systemic” gender pay discrimination and demanded the company provide more data about its wage practices. The company said the task, which would require about 500 work hours and $100,000, would be too expensive (despite Alphabet’s self-reported financial growth: Ruth Porat, Alphabet’s chief financial officer, said in June of the company’s Q2 earnings, “With revenues of $26 billion, up 21% versus the second quarter of 2016 and 23% on a constant currency basis, we’re delivering strong growth with great underlying momentum, while continuing to make focused investments in new revenue streams”).

And, as noted by Bustle, the data illustrates the importance of transparency and keeping a conversation about salaries alive: “Yet what this data set does demonstrate on a broader scale is 1) how easy it is to share salary information in the interest of more equitable pay, and 2) why that kind of initiative is so important.”

Shareholders for Alphabet earlier this year rejected a proposal that would require the company to prepare a report on its gender pay data. This is the second year in a row shareholders nixed such a proposal.

The proposal, from investment firm Arjuna Capital, would have required Alphabet to produce by November 2017 a report detailing the percentage pay gap based on gender with a breakdown by race and ethnicity.

“Gender pay disparity is not only one of the biggest social justice issues of our time, it poses a risk to [Alphabet’s] performance, brand and investor returns,” said Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement for Arjuna.

“By not addressing the issue at the same level as its peers, Alphabet is put at a competitive disadvantage in the recruitment of candidates and the retention of employees,” Lamb said at the meeting.

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