For the second time in three years, Google is finding itself in the news over an employee-generated spreadsheet. According to The New York Times, a spreadsheet the newspaper obtained shows that male employees at the company receive higher salaries and bonuses than women at nearly every level.
Two years ago, Erica Baker, a former Google employee, posted a series of tweets detailing her creation of a transparent, salary-sharing spreadsheet at the company. Baker said this spreadsheet, which showed a gender gap among peer bonuses, was less than welcomed by the higher-ups at the company.
a thing bothered me yesterday and it's still bothering me today and so now i want to tell a story.— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) July 17, 2015
The New York Times reports the spreadsheet they saw is the same one initially started by Baker, with up-to-date 2017 base salaries and bonuses. These figures appear to show women earning less than their male counterparts in five out of six pay levels at the company.
It's important to note that the spreadsheet only contains information from 1,200 United States-based Google employees, so it is far from representative of the whole.
“The analysis in this story is extremely flawed, as it features an extremely small sample size, and doesn’t include location, role, tenure or performance," says Gina Scigliano, a Google spokesperson, in response to the Times article. "This means that the story is comparing the compensation of, for example, a high-performing Level 5 engineer in the Bay Area with a low-performing Level 5 non-technical employee working in a different location. It doesn’t make sense to compare the compensation of these two people. We do rigorous compensation analyses and when you compare like-for-like, women are paid 99.7% of what men are paid at Google."
However, Google has been facing formal scrutiny on its gender pay gap: In January, the government filed a lawsuit against the company requiring it provide salary data so the Labor Department can conduct their own analysis into claims of a gender pay gap. At the time, Google told Reuters the requests were "overbroad in scope." Then, in April, the Labour Department said Google violated employment laws by paying women less than men. In July, a judge ruled Google was not required to hand over the government requested data (though they are required to hand over a "limited" data set).
Gender pay gap issues continue to be a problem, especially in Silicon Valley. While the Times' report isn't conclusive due to the small size of the data, scrutiny over pay gaps at Google is unlikely to go away anytime soon. The company will have a lot of convincing to do beyond simply saying it's not true. Earlier this year, The LA Times reported that Alphabet (Google's parent company) shareholders voted against publishing a report on pay transparency.