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'Speaking Up Didn't Fix a Damn Thing': Xoogler Rails at Search Giant on Diversity

The former techie behind the salary transparency spreadsheet offers another scathing series of tweets.

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Last week, Erica Baker, a former Google engineer, shared a story about a spreadsheet she created at the Mountain View company to show salary transparency. Through a series of tweets, Baker explained how the effort displeased management. Then colleagues approved, offering her “peer bonuses” — a compensation rewards system inside Google — for building the spreadsheet, which reached about 5 percent of the company.

Those bonuses for Baker, an African-American, were rejected by her manager, she said.

Early on Saturday, Baker, now an engineer with Slack, returned to Twitter to respond to the frustrations she said have poured in from current Googlers about treatment within the company. Official channels for voicing issues around race and gender, she said on Twitter, were futile.

“IMO (in my opinion),” she wrote, “the only thing that will cause any significant change in your situation is to leave.”

Baker left Google in May after nine years at the search giant, according to her LinkedIn profile. Last fall, she wrote a lengthy article on Medium about her experiences as one of only a few African-American females working at Google.

It concluded:

I know this: I am not my job. I am not my industry or its stereotypes. I am a black woman who happens to work in the tech industry. I don’t need to change to fit within my industry. My industry needs to change to make everyone feel included and accepted.

After Baker’s series of tweets last week, a Google spokeswoman issued this statement:

“Our policy is not to comment on individual or former employees, but we can confirm that we regularly run analysis of compensation, promotion and performance to ensure that they are equitable with no pay gap. Employees are free to share their salaries with one another if they choose.”

Last year, Google became the first major tech company to publicly post its gender and race diversity numbers, a practice that spread to other companies, such as Apple, Facebook and Twitter.

With Google’s latest figures, shared last month, Nancy Lee, the operators VP charging the diversity efforts, remarked on the progress needed. “Early indications show promise,” she said in a statement, “but we know that with an organization our size, year-on-year growth and meaningful change is going to take time.” Google reported that 2 percent of its workforce is black, with 91 percent white and Asian.

Baker, however, appears to be pointing to a qualitative flaw in how Google manages personnel. On Twitter, she clarified that she was not punished for sharing the spreadsheet. But, as her new Twitter missives show, it does not appear she was listened to, either.

Last week, when Re/code reached out to her, Baker declined to comment both on Twitter and through a Slack spokeswoman.

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