If Google can make cars drive themselves, it should figure out diversity, CFO says

Ruth Porat also reiterated that her company continues to work with the US military.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read
Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit 2018 - Day 1

Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet and Google, pictured last month at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit 2018, spoke Monday at the WSJ D.Live conference.

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Google is committed to diversity and supports its employees in their protests, the company's financial chief said Monday.

Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet and Google, said Monday during the Wall Street Journal D.Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., that she participated in this month's walkouts with her financial team. 

"Diversity overall makes an organization stronger," she said. "People can have their individual views. It doesn't have an impact on product. More diversity is positive."

Watch this: Google employees protest tech giant's handling of sexual misconduct

She noted that her company can get cars to drive themselves, so it should be able to figure out how to make its company more diverse.

"Why can't we solve this?" Porat said. "If you're able to change one thing, you should be able to change more than that. We're very committed to this."

Google has been under intense scrutiny recently, especially from its own employees and Washington, DC. Google employees walked out of the company's offices around the world on Nov. 1 in protest of the search giant's handling of sexual harassment claims -- specifically at the executive level.

The walkout came a week after The New York Times published a bombshell investigative report on sexual harassment at Google. According to the Times' report, Android creator Andy Rubin was accused by a worker of having coerced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2013. Google reportedly found the allegation to be credible. The company then asked for his resignation, gave him an exit package of $90 million, and didn't mention the misconduct in his departure announcement, according to the Times.

Google on Thursday said it's making changes to the way it handles sexual harassment cases, including greater transparency, new reporting channels, and making arbitration optional for individual harassment and assault claims.

At the same time, Google has been facing fire from the federal government. In September, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified before the Senate over election security, disinformation and the perceived biases of the companies' algorithms. Larry Page , CEO of Google's parent company Alphabet, and Pichai, CEO of Google itself, were invited, but both declined, spurring widespread anger from lawmakers.

Google has also been hit with allegations of political bias. In August, President Donald Trump accused Google of political bias and having a liberal bent. He tweeted that Google's search results are "RIGGED," saying the company is "suppressing voices of Conservatives." Another controversy is Google's decision last month to pull out of bidding for a $10 billion Pentagon contract after employee protests. Google said that the project may conflict with its principles for ethical use of AI.

Porat on Monday said that Google continues to work with the military and will keep doing so, especially in areas like cybersecurity.

"We are committed to working with the Department of Defense," she said, echoing comments by Google CEO Sundar Pichai from last month.

Google employees stage large-scale walkout

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