Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Wednesday said the search giant will add more black employees, as well as employees from other “underrepresented groups,” to its leadership ranks. The company vowed a 30% improvement over the next five years.
The promise is part of a broader slew of commitments the company announced regarding racial equity. It comes as people all over the world have protested systemic racism, after the killings of several black people at the hands of police, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks.
“Over the past several weeks, violent and racist attacks against the Black community have forced the world to reckon with the structural and systemic racism that Black people have experienced over generations,” Pichai wrote in a blog post. “My own search for answers started within our own walls.”
Pichai said Google will try to reach its diversity goal for leadership by posting job listings both internally and externally, and increasing investments in places including Atlanta and Washington, DC, cities with large black populations. At Google, black employees only make up 3.7% of the workforce in the US, up incrementally from 3.3% a year earlier.
Google also announced a $175 million package to support black business owners, startup founders and developers. That includes $100 million for black-led venture capital firms and startup organizations, and $50 million for small businesses focused on the black community. The commitment follows a separate $100 million fund announced by YouTube last week to support black creators on the video platform.
Pichai also said Google is creating a product task force to implement ideas that will help Google’s products better serve black users.
The new commitments come as Google has faced criticism for how it’s handed diversity issues. The company has been accused of scaling back its diversity efforts, including cutting and outsourcing employee training sessions, according to a report by NBC News. Google denied it was scaling back its efforts, and Pichai said earlier this month that diversity is a “foundational” value for Google.
At a shareholder meeting earlier this month, the company rejected a shareholder proposal that called for executives’ pay packages to be tied to diversity and inclusion goals. The practice has been adopted by some other tech giants, including IBM and Intel.