Google finds it paid women more than men for the same job

Tech giant paid out adjustments to men amid allegations of gender discrimination at the company

FILE - This Oct. 20, 2015, file photo, shows signage outside Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google said Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, it will no longer require that its workers settle disputes with the company through arbitration, responding to months of pressure from employees. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
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Google found that some male software engineers received less pay than women last year, resulting in pay adjustments for thousands of men, according to a company blog post.

The pay equity analysis comes amid allegations of gender discrimination against parent company Alphabet, the world's second-biggest technology company. In January 2018, a class action lawsuit by a group of women accused the company of systematically paying women less than men. The suit could affect more than 8,000 current and former female employees. Google has denied the claims.

The 2018 pay study included 91 per cent of company employees, the highest percentage since the company introduced the annual study in 2012. Google paid out $9.7 million in adjustments to a total of 10,677 employees following the internal compensation audit. In comparison, the company paid out $270,000 to 228 employees in the 2017 study.

About half of the total dollars spent on adjustments was for new employees because a new hire analysis was conducted for the first time this year. Another reason for the steep increase in payouts was attributed to one job at Google in particular: Level 4 software engineer.

“Within this job code, men were flagged for adjustments because they received less discretionary funds than women,” the company said, without disclosing what percentage of the payouts went to men.

Employee compensation at Google is generated by a basic calculation of the market rate for the job, the location, level and performance rating. From there, managers are provided discretionary funds to increase an employees’ salary, bonus or equity. The study found that among Level 4 software engineers, more women were given additional funds than men in the same job, so Google adjusted for men in this category.

The purpose of the study is to “make sure that the modeled amounts, and any changes made by managers, are equitable across gender and racial lines,” wrote Lauren Barbato, Google’s people analytics research manager, in the post published on Monday.

While the analysis is meant to ensure compensation is fair, Ms Barbato said in the post “that’s only part of the story” because it did not take starting salaries for each employee into account – called leveling – or an employee's subsequent trajectory through the company.

“Because leveling, performance ratings, and promotion impact pay, this year, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of these processes to make sure the outcomes are fair and equitable for all employees,” Ms Barbato wrote.