Do you want to work for Google? In some ways, who wouldn’t? Sunny California, fabulous campus, free organic meals, perks galore . . . oh, and challenging work with some of the brightest minds in the field. By all accounts, Google is a class act, a symbol of modernization. Does Google want you to work for it? Ah, that is the question. Eric Schmidt, a former Google CEO, and Jonathan Rosenberg, a former Google senior product manager, say Google searches for a certain type of person: a “smart creative.” They say smart creatives are “a new kind of animal”—and the secret ingredient to Google’s success. Do you think you are a smart creative? Are you an impatient, outspoken, risk-taker who is easily bored? Do you change jobs frequently? Are you intellectually flexible? Do you have technical know-how, business knowledge, and creativity? Do you think analytically? According to Schmidt and Rosenberg, answering yes to these questions makes you smart and creative. As you can see, being smart and creative is not all positive. But it will get you hired at Google One last question: Are you male or female? Google may be a symbol of the modernization of the workplace, but perhaps not of the workforce. The Google workforce, with 48,600 individuals, is a man’s world—70 percent male
overall. On the technical side, a full 83 percent of the engineering employees are male. In the management ranks, 79 percent of the managers are male. On the executive level, only three of the company’s 36 executives are women. Google officials say they are aware of the lack of diversity, but that their diversity initiatives have failed. However, others report that sexist comments go unchecked and there is a frat-house atmosphere. In fact, an interviewer at an all-company presentation insultingly teased a man and woman who shared an office, asking them, “Which one of you does the dishes?” Thankfully, Google has begun to put its smart creatives to work on new thoughts about diversity. With the help of social psychology research, the company sent all employees through training on unconscious bias—our reflexive tendency to be biased toward our own groups—to force people to consider their racist and sexist mindsets. So far, the training seems to be making a bigger difference than former initiatives, but the firm has a long way to go. Laszlo Bock, Google’s top HR executive, said, “Suddenly you go from being completely oblivious to going, ‘Oh my god, it’s everywhere.’” Critics are skeptical that Google and other large technology firms will ever count women in their ranks in numbers that reflect the population, though research continues to indicate that men and women are highly similar employees. Once Google has achieved greater diversity than it currently has, perhaps its executives can begin to work on the pay differentials: a recent Harvard study indicated that women computer scientists receive 89 percent of the pay men earn for the same jobs.
2-15. Does this article change your perception of Google as an employer? How?
2-16. Would you agree that although Google helps to modernize the workplace in other companies, its
own workforce is old-fashioned?
2-17. Why are older employees often neglected or discriminated against?
Sources: S. Goldenberg, “Exposing Hidden Bias at Google,” The New York Times, September 25, 2014,
B1, B9; S. Lohr, “The Google Formula for Success,” The New York Times, September 29, 2014, B8;
N. Wingfield, “Microsoft Chief Backpedals on Women’s Pay,” The New York Times, October 10, 2014,
B7–B8; and E. Zell, Z. Krizan, and S. R. Teeter, “Evaluating Gender Similarities and Differences Using
Metasynthesis,” American Psychologist 70 (2015): 10–20.
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