Is Google Really Paying Male Employees Less Than Females?

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Gender and race pay bias exist in most tech companies. In recent years, many tech companies have faced a lawsuit concerning pay discrimination where women are paid less than men for doing the same work.

However, on Monday, Google released a report that seems counterintuitive to the widely accepted reality: male engineers in the tech giant are paid less for equivalent work done by their female counterparts.

This pronouncement has shocked the tech world and has re-opened the discussion on equality in an industry dominated and is traditionally associated with men.

While the company has disclosed some information from the study before, this is the first time that Google released results of their pay equity in this level of detail on gender. In 2017, the pay equity analysis revealed that there is a statistically significant pay difference in 228 employees across six job categories, including men and women in several counties and “Black and Latinx/Hispanic Googlers in the U.S. across functions.”

In a blog post, Google showed selective findings from 2018 pay equity analysis by the company that the proposed changes in 2019 to compensate the pay gap between men and women, showed that men would be paid lesser than women in one lower-level job category, internally referred to as Level 4 engineers.

At the end of every year, Google conducts a pay equity analysis to make sure that their employees are paid equally and equitable regardless of their race or gender.

The analysis for 2018 had fortunately caught the discrepancy before the budget was implemented, meaning men were not paid less than their women counterparts. The annual analysis, however, only compares employees in the same category and does not reflect results in pay inequality in hiring and promotion.

According to Google, they compensate their employees with salary, equity, and bonuses. These are determined by the employee’s position, performance, and location. Furthermore, managers have access to pools of discretionary funds that they can allocate as they may see fit. Further analysis by Google has revealed that the gap between men and women stems from managers planning to award more of their discretionary funds on women than men in 2019.

Google finds the result of their analysis on gender this year as counterintuitive. However, it is also interesting to note that the release of the data arrives as Google faces investigations by the United States Department of Labor and a lawsuit filed by current and former female employees.

Kelly Ellis, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and a former software engineer in Google and hired as Level 3 engineer, a category allocated for fresh college graduates, regardless of having more than four years of experience. She alleges in her complaint that a few months after joining the company, Google hired a male engineer with comparable experience at Level 4. This means that the male engineer was up for bigger salaries, bonuses, and more stocks.

To make matters worse, her managers urged Ellis to apply to a higher position, but she was subsequently turned down until she left the company in 2014.

“There’s been a lot of lip service, and more recently since the Department of Labor investigation came out there’s been a denial, which made me realize that this isn’t going to get fixed unless we make them fix it,” Ellis says.

Google contested Ellis’s claims saying that the company has a rigorous hiring process to prevent gender bias. According to Gina Scigliano, a spokesperson for Google, the company has an extensive system to make sure that they pay fairly.

“Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions,” she says in a statement.

Meanwhile, Jim Feinberg, legal counsel for Kelly Ellis said that the release of Google’s yearly pay equity analysis this year contradicts various expert analyses of the company’s payroll data.

The plaintiffs are seeking class action for roughly 8,300 current and former employees. “It is very disappointing that, instead of addressing the real gender pay inequities adverse to women, Google has decided to increase the compensation of 8,000 male software engineers,” Feinberg said. “Come on, Google! It is time to do the right thing.” /apr

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