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Google's racial equity push includes $175 million for Black businesses

It aims for 30 percent of leaders to come from underrepresented groups.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
June 17, 2020
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CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 02:  Google Chicago Headquarters in Fulton Market in Chicago, Illinois on February 2, 2020.  (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Google’s commitment to supporting the Black community will extend well beyond YouTube’s $100 million fund. Google and Alphabet chief Sundar Pichai has unveiled a racial equity initiative that, among other things, will contribute a total of $175 million toward creating economic opportunities for Black businesses and workers.

Most, $100 million, will go toward funding participation for Black-led capital firms, startups and entrepreneurial organizations. Another $50 million will go to financing and grants for small businesses thanks to help from the Opportunity Finance Network. The company will also devote $15 million to worker training through allies like the National Urban League, and at least $10 million to improve access to “education, equipment and economic opportunities” for developers.

The internet giant is also promising $3 million to address gaps in computer science and STEM education. It’s widening an awards program to 16 more universities to tackle gaps in computer science research, and bolstering representation in AI with $250,000 toward Black in AI.

Representation within Google will matter as well. It’s aiming to increase Black representation at senior levels by opening senior positions to outside candidates and investing in cities like Atlanta, Chicago and London. It’s aiming for underrepresented groups to make up 30 percent of leadership by 2025. Google is setting up a talent liaison to mentor and advocate staff from underrepresented groups regardless of level, and will launch a task force to generate “concrete” solutions for accountability in areas like hiring, performance management and retention. That group should have its first proposals in 90 days, Pichai said.

There will also be anti-racism and health programs, as well as broader attempts to boost inclusion and belonging.

The efforts could go some distance toward improving Black access to Google and the tech industry, and appears to do more than provide lip service to racial equity. With that said, Google has struggled to improve its diversity in the past — money and programs can help, but they’re no guarantee that Google’s cultural demographics will change.

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