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Google releases pay methodology in attempt to prove no gender gap exists

Google has published a new response to Department of Labor claims that it systematically underpays its female staff members. The statement once again denies that any pay gap exists within the company, explaining the “gender-blind” way the company makes its salary calculations, which it says is based on “role, job level, job location as well as current and recent performance ratings.”

Once a salary is calculated by analysts — who Google says have no access to the gender information of the employee in question — it’s then fed into the company’s pay equity model. This is a four-stage process that compares suggested compensation amounts between genders, and theoretically prods the company to make adjustments if any statistical gap is observed.

“Our analysis gives us confidence that there is no gender pay gap at Google,” the statement — written by Eileen Naughton, Google’s VP of people operations — reads. Naughton says that Google’s most recent analysis, performed in late 2016 and covering 52 different job categories, found “no gender pay gap.” Google has already published an overview of how to reach a pay equity analysis model for other businesses, and has recently expanded its own system to cover race as well as gender in determining pay, as well as publicly sharing a top-level analysis of how to compensate employees equally in 2016.

Google’s expressed methodology would seem to iron out imbalances in wages, but Naughton notes that before pay details are run through the equity model, they can be adjusted by an employee’s line manager — “providing they cite a legitimate adjustment rationale.”

The response comes after the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs claimed it had found “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across [Google’s] entire workforce.” The complaint came in a San Francisco court on Friday, as part of a government case against Google, which seeks to obtain information about how much it pays its workers.

The OFCCP demanded compensation information for Google employees in September 2015, but the company pushed back against the demand, arguing that the office’s request was too broad. The DoL finally sued Google in January of this year to get access to the information, but a judge denied a summary motion in February, and the case is still ongoing without the OFCCP having access to the full reports.

The company’s statement makes reference to this situation, stating that the OFCCP had reached its conclusion without any supporting data or methodology. The office has not made clear how it reached this conclusion without access to information it originally demanded, but speaking to The Guardian, DoL solicitor Janet Herold said that the office had “received compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters.” She also noted that the investigation was not complete.


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