Google founders under pressure from employees, activist groups to support racial equity audit

Various civil society groups and employees at Google’s parent company, known as Alphabet, dispatched letters to the company’s founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as well as former CEO Eric Schmidt, pressing them to support a racial equity audit at the company.

According to reporting at The Hill, the letters urge the men to support, or at the very least abstain from voting on, a new investor proposal that calls for an audit at Alphabet’s annual stockholder meeting, which is to be held next Wednesday. Between them, Page, Brin, and Schmidt control over half of the company’s shareholder votes, although they no longer are involved in Google’s daily operations.

“[Y]our support or abstention has the power to make or break this popular and necessary investor-led advocacy,” the letters read. They were co-signed by Access Now, a digital rights nonprofit, as well as Accountable Tech, an industry watchdog, and the civil rights outfit Color of Change. The signees want Alphabet’s board of directors to set up an independent commission to audit the company’s “adverse impacts on Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities.”

It sounds like another woke shakedown, and Alphabet’s proxy statement indicates the company is unwilling to capitulate. It recommends that shareholders vote against the new proposal, sensibly arguing that Alphabet is plenty committed to the various woke schemes for “racial equity,” and that a “racial equity audit” would be superfluous.

“Given our significant actions to evaluate and improve our DEI and racial equity efforts and our robust transparency around this work,” the proxy statement reads, “our Board does not believe that the audit requested by this proposal would provide substantial additional information to stockholders as we advance this work.”

“Alphabet is one of the most influential companies on the planet that shapes people’s attitudes about all sorts of things through search, through YouTube,” he said. “The proposal…is not an extraordinary request.”

Last year, a group of five Democratic senators—including Corey “I Am Spartacus” Booker and Richard “Da Nang Dick” Blumenthal—also called for an audit of Alphabet.

“We are concerned algorithms will rely on data that reinforces negative stereotypes and either exclude people from seeing ads for housing, employment, credit, and education or show only predatory opportunities,” they wrote in a letter to the company.

Those pushing the newest audit claim to hope it will shed some light on allegations of workplace discrimination at the tech giant.

“We’ve seen over the past years the impacts of discrimination in the workplace,” Parul Koul, a Google software engineer and executive chair of the Alphabet Workers Union, told The Hill.

“An audit like this would help reveal a fuller picture of what’s happening and, in my view, help certify what workers already know to be true: that these aren’t isolated incidents but part of a larger trend that Google must do more to address.”

“As current workers who work on the products and the tools that will be audited,” Koul added, “we want to be able to make clear that an audit is not a hindrance but a necessary step to ensure that Google’s tech and policies are ensuring a safer and more equitable world.”


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