In a memo that’s circulating through Google, a former employee who recently decided to leave described the racism they felt as a black person working at the search giant’s New York headquarters, in what is the latest example of the tech industry struggling to provide safe and equitable working environments for employees of color.
“Over the last 5 years I’ve heard co-workers spew hateful words about immigrants, boast unabashedly about gentrifying neighborhoods, mockingly imitate people who speak different languages, reject candidates of color without evidence because of ‘fit,'” the former employee wrote in the memo, which was first obtained by Motherboard.
They said that although they grew more comfortable over time speaking up to “educate” their co-workers, they “never stopped feeling the burden of being black at Google.”
The former employee — who had their name redacted from the publicly released memo — also laid out three steps they thought Google should take to improve its diversity and inclusion efforts.
Those steps included restructuring the company’s referral program (which, they said, perpetuated the diversity gap), use virtual reality more prominently in diversity training to build empathy and curtail biases, and offer more mental health support for employees of color.
Google did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the memo.
Google, along with other Silicon Valley giants, has struggled to hire a more diverse workforce. In 2018, black employees only accounted for 2.8% of Google’s technical roles and 3.6% of its leadership roles. Overall, black employees accounted for 4.8% of Google’s total workforce.
Last year, it was a former employee from Facebook that shared a letter upon his departure, detailing the experience of racism he encountered and the company’s failures to build a more inclusive and supportive work environment for people of color.
“Facebook has a black people problem,” he said at the time.
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