Google & Meta DEI Programs in 2023: Big Tech’s Commitment
Google & Meta DEI Programs in 2023: Big Tech’s Commitment. In a pivotal response to the tragic murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020, tech giants Google and Meta initiated robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs. These initiatives aimed to support Black employees and foster equity both within their organizations and externally for Black users. However, the landscape has evolved, and the year 2023 witnessed a surprising turn of events as both Google and Meta scaled back their DEI programs.
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The Initial Commitments: A Pledge for Change
Post-Floyd era, Google’s commitments included a 30% improvement in leadership representation, doubling non-senior Black employees by 2025, and addressing hiring, retention, and promotion issues. These promises were part of a broader industry trend, with millions invested by corporations to enhance diversity and support external DEI initiatives.
The Retraction: DEI Programs on the Decline
Contrary to the upward trajectory in 2020-2021, mid-2023 data indicated a 44% decline in DEI-related job postings. By November 2023, this decline persisted at 23%, signifying a shift in priorities. Both Google and Meta implemented workforce reductions, affecting smaller third-party organizations dependent on these tech giants.
Unraveling Broken Promises: Budget Cuts and Staff Reductions
Amidst heightened commitments post-Floyd, the trend has reversed, with some companies slashing their DEI budgets by as much as 90%. Google and Meta, once at the forefront of DEI efforts, are now making strategic workforce cuts, impacting not only internal programs but also external organizations relying on their support.
Tech Advancements Amidst DEI Retreat
As technology advances into artificial intelligence (AI), the substantial reduction in DEI efforts raises concerns about potential power imbalances. Without diverse representation in AI development, both corporate employees and consumers may face greater disparities.
Industry Repercussions: Program Terminations and Pay Disparities
In response to complaints about pay equity, Google terminated the Engineering Residency program in 2021. Despite introducing Early Career Immersion (ECI) as a replacement, uncertainties led to the cancellation of the 2023 ECI cohort. Pay inequities also surfaced in Google’s Apprenticeship program, where participants reported being paid less than their counterparts.
Corporate Layoffs and ERG Impact
Meta laid off over 11,000 workers, including its entire Sourcer Development Program, impacting diversity in corporate technology recruiting. Google and Meta both cut personnel responsible for recruiting underrepresented individuals, affecting Black employee resource groups (ERGs) and planned training for underrepresented talent.
External Organizations Feeling the Pinch
Despite internal cutbacks, external organizations anticipated continued corporate sponsorship. However, big tech leaders, including Google and Meta, reduced their engagements with third parties, affecting firms like Brij the Gap Consulting and Hella Social Impact. The cuts have forced some companies to request free services, erasing progress made in fostering inclusivity.
The Future Outlook: Balancing Progress and Challenges
While corporate leaders express optimism for 2024, the DEI landscape faces challenges. Backlash against DEI programs, legislative decisions affecting diversity efforts, and the impact on conferences like Grace Hopper reflect the complex interplay of societal dynamics.
AI’s Growing Role: DEI as a Necessity
Experts emphasize that DEI work is more critical than ever, especially with the surge in artificial intelligence development. The absence of inclusivity in AI development may result in products that do not align with diverse user needs.
The Road Ahead: Rebuilding Relationships and Upholding Promises
If companies decide to rebuild DEI initiatives in the future, building relationships with DEI stakeholders will be crucial. The younger generation places significance on accountability, remembering which organizations follow through on their promises.
In conclusion, the evolving landscape of DEI efforts in big tech reflects both progress and setbacks. As the industry navigates the delicate balance between technological advancements and societal inclusivity, the commitment to diversity remains an ongoing journey for Google, Meta, and their peers.