Former Employees Of Google Claim They Were Put On Mental Health Leaves For Reporting Discrimination
There used to be a time, a couple of years ago when every time someone thought of an ideal workspace, our mind would quickly race to things like decent working hours, handsome pay and a steady career growth path. Keeping these factors in one’s mind was enough to work towards a nice and decent switch, preferably with a better brand. Google would feature on a lot of people’s wish list. However, what we probably miss out on are things like work culture, diversity, inclusion and taking employees and their concerns seriously. The things that actually matter but are often turned a blind eye to.
But that’s what you think happens at smaller companies, not the giants. Not at Google. But it turns out, not all may be well over at this tech giant’s office. Google has recently come under social media ire after reports and ex employee testimonies have come forward stating how it maybe cultivating a sexist and racist work culture.
Several current and former Google employees have spoken up to claim that the company’s human resources department would often suggest mental health counseling or a leave in response to complaints about racist or sexist behavior in the workplace, a report by the NBC News says. In fact, employees have also gone ahead to admit how encounters and conversations with coworkers were often riddled with racist comments about skin colour and hairstyles, as well as sexual harassment.
This thing where Google advised mental health care to staff who complained about racism and sexism is really bad https://t.co/z3M3GQNVAa
— Martijn Grooten (@martijn_grooten) March 9, 2021
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Coming as a huge shock to the lot of us, who were under the impression that Google was perhaps one of the many companies to take cultural diversity and inclusion seriously, the news shed light on a problematic work culture here. It was claimed that every time an employee would go up to the HR department to file a complaint about harassment or experiencing racism or sexism, they were encouraged to take mental health leave, even when their complaints were unrelated to mental health concerns.
Several ex employees have come forward to support the word going around on this one. Benjamin Cruz, a former employee, said that they had complained to HR about a comment made by a colleague which expressed “surprise” at Cruz “being darker than expected”. Meanwhile, these reports were also followed after firing of Google AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru, who refused a manager’s request to retract a paper that described the dangers of language models like the ones Google relies on to power its search engine.
— Ethical AI Resources (@AiEthical) March 9, 2021
Another case was of April Christina Curley, a Black woman who worked as a diversity recruiter for Google who was fired also surfaced during the time. Turns out, she was laid off in September after being denied promotions and having her pay cut, despite her strong work performance and her successful recruitment of hundreds of students from historically Black colleges and universities to Google’s engineering department. She admits to being asked to leave to support her mental health.
Another former employee shared, “Going on leave is so normalized. I can think of 10 people that I know of in the last year that have gone on mental health leave because of the way they were treated.” Guess this dialogue pulled at a larger string of the Google work culture, one that is coming undone under the pressure of sexist and racist allegations.
It is a shame that despite us being in the 21st century, claiming to move towards a progressive society and culture, we are still burdened with stereotypes and racist discrimination.