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Sundar Pichai says diversity remains 'foundational value' for Google

Google also hopes to get 60% of its employees back into the office "once a week" by the end of 2020, the Alphabet CEO tells The Verge.

Sundar Pichai at Google I/O 2019
Sundar Pichai says Google is still committed to diversity, despite reports of recent changes to its programs.
James Martin/CNET
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Google remains committed to diversity and representation in its workforce, its parent company's CEO told The Verge in response to an NBC News report that it was rolling back such programs. Alphabet boss Sundar Pichai also said the search giant works to accommodate political viewpoints, despite worries that conservative criticism may have influenced its plans for diversity programs.

The company scaled back or ended several diversity programs in recent years due to the challenges of scaling them globally, it told NBC. However, other sources told the network that managers discouraged the use of the term "diversity," in part because of the controversy surrounding engineer James Damore.

In 2017, Damore was fired over a memo in which he said women are underrepresented in the technology industry because "preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes" rather than bias. He sued Google for alleged discrimination against white conservative men, but earlier this month asked that the suit be dismissed.

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In an email to CNET, the company asserted that any suggestion that it had scaled back or cut its diversity efforts "is entirely false."

"Diversity, equity and inclusion remains a company wide commitment and our programs are continuing to scale up," a spokesperson wrote.

Pichai also offered more details about Google's plans for bringing employees back to its offices as the coronavirus lockdown is reduced. A rotating schedule would allow them to maintain social distancing, he told The Vergecast, with a prediction that the company will "get 60% of our employees in once a week."

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