Google explores why everyone is a little bit racist

Kai Ryssdal and Tommy Andres Sep 26, 2014
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Google explores why everyone is a little bit racist

Kai Ryssdal and Tommy Andres Sep 26, 2014
HTML EMBED:
COPY

This will probably come as a surprise to no one, but Silicon Valley is dominated by men. In fact, it’s dominated by white men. 

Google’s workforce is around 70 percent male and just over 60 percent white, and New York Times tech reporter Farhad Manjoo says the company knows that’s bad for business.

“The interesting thing about Google is it’s working on problems that no one has ever worked on before,” Manjoo says. “So the way to solve those problems is to get an extremely diverse group of people looking at them. [Google] feels like if they can get more women, more people from different parts of the world looking at these problems they’ll have a better chance to solve them than if they have a bunch of people that live and work in Silicon Valley and look like the TV show ‘Silicon Valley.'”

Manjoo wrote an article this week called “The Business Case for Diversity in the Tech Industry.” He says Google has been promoting programs to try to draw more diverse students into software engineering, but it’s also started tackling something below the surface. Manjoo says Google calls it “unconscious bias,” and he attended a new diversity workshop put on by Google’s human resources team.

“It was interesting because it’s based on a lot of research in psychology about how people express biases in ways they don’t know,” Manjoo says. “Google’s basic message in these workshops is that everyone is a little bit racist, a little bit sexist and the way to make sure you’re not acting that way is to be conscious of what you’re saying, to be conscious that this is a problem and not let your unconscious biases lead a meeting or lead the way.”

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