On Saturday, a Google engineer’s controversial internal memo criticizing the company’s diversity initiatives and “ideological echo chamber” went public after being shared with reporters and via social media. The author argued, among other things, that Google should not offer programs to people of any specific race or gender, that they should instead prioritize ideological and political diversity, and that a lack of representation between men and women in software engineering might not be due to bias, but to innate biological characteristics.
The document’s release, and the engineer’s subsequent firing, spurred strong reactions. Many Google employees and other public figures condemned the document, saying that it perpetuated inaccurate stereotypes, while still others defended the author’s right to speak his mind.
CEO Sundar Pichai said in an internal note to employees that while the company “strongly support[s] the right of Googlers to express themselves…. portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.
“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects ‘each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination,’” Pichai continued.
This comes amidst a time when Google is currently under investigation by the Department of Labor for what they claim are “systemic compensation disparities” between men and women. This begs the question: Are these incidents accurate representations of men’s and women’s experience at Google overall?
Glassdoor sits on about 33 million reviews and insights for more than 700,000 companies — including Google — that provide a unique, balanced look at the employee experience. In April, Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain analyzed reported salaries from Google employees to determine whether or not the data reflected a gender pay gap. His finding? No statistical gender pay gap exists in Google’s Glassdoor data, after accounting for factors like job title, education, age, years of experience, and more.
But what about employee satisfaction?
Overall, Google is a highly rated company. Their 4.3 company rating thus far in Q3 2017 well exceeds the 3.3 average, and they frequently make Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list (most recently coming in at #4). And when breaking the ratings out by gender, since Q1 of 2016, men and women have both rated the company highly, ranging between 4.2 and 4.6 over the past few quarters.
However, there are a few areas in which men’s and women’s opinions of the company differ slightly.
It’s worth noting, though, that all of these ratings are above the average of all companies rated on Glassdoor. And indeed, many employees had positive things to say about their employer, praising Google’s environment and intelligent coworkers.
“Amazing colleagues, transparent culture, some of the best benefits in the world, great pay, a culture of learning and improving, a culture of respect towards women, LGBTI, and other similar groups that can face discrimination, some very hard challenges to be worked on, opportunities for travel… I could go on!” said one former Strategic Partner Development Manager.
“Good perks, salary, bonus; smart coworkers; very liberal and open minded; lots of activities and opportunities to learn,” said a current Infrastructure Software Engineer.
However, as the memo’s author pointed out, a very liberal environment might not be for all. Google’s large size also proves frustrating for some, while other employees feel there is not enough diversity.
“It’s getting too big. A lot of process to get things done,” said one current employee.
“Too many young people. Felt that there was less diversity. Many at senior role with very little experience and skills to manage teams,” said a former Project Manager.
While we can’t speak to every employee’s experience at Google, the data does show that Google is generally well-regarded by both male and female employees. While Google is not without its drawbacks — just like any other company — their above-average ratings for the company overall, career opportunities, senior leadership, and work-life balance paint a largely positive picture.