Google recalculated its wages, and yup, raises for underpaid fellas. So can you forget those gender discrim claims?

See, we're totally not screwing over women, insists ad giant

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Although Google has been repeatedly accused of unfairly paying men much more than women, during its latest salary review it instead found, surprise, surprise, actually a load of fellas were underpaid.

Last year, amid allegations of gender discrimination in favor of blokes, the ad goliath's HR bods ran a series of algorithms to recalculate how much individual staffers should be compensated. This code weighed up things like bonuses, share options, ranks, roles, locations, and overall performances, and is rerun every year, we understand. Bosses are allowed to top up salaries for their best-performing staff.

The beancounters compared the calculated values against Googlers' actual compensation packages to detect any abnormalities in the figures, and thus determine whether any particular group was unfairly underpaid. Any shortchanged workers were appropriately recompensated at the end of the year. Therefore, everyone, regardless of race and gender, was subjected to the same algorithms and rules, and should be paid fairly eventually.

For 2018, though, thousands of men were given pay rises: we're told, for instance, Google's low-level male software engineers were underpaid compared to women. Of course, no one publicly knows who writes the HR code, how it actually works, and what biases, if any, are built in. It's also not clear how many women required raises.

It's all rather vague, but then, it could all be rather moot, anyway, when you look into the numbers, and be nothing more than cunning spin.

Perspective

Some 91 per cent of staff were included in the analysis, and as a result, $9.7m was dished out in additional payments to 10,677 Googlers, who were mostly men, out of roughly 90,000 employees.

Which works out to about $900 per person, on average. Not even enough to give 1,000 of them $10,000 each, or 5,000 $2,000 each, and afford the rest some change. You see, $9.7m is a tiny fraction of Google's annual wage bill – its software developers alone are on an average of $140,000 (£106,000) a year, for instance.

This is all, therefore, perhaps a bit of a humble brag by the tech giant, that it was, in its mind, more or less right in determining people's pay, and that it totally definitely wasn't screwing over women, and only men by a little bit. So, no need to pursue those gender-discrimination lawsuits, right, OK?

One particularly large group awarded adjustments in compensation – and by adjustments, Google means pay rises – was the company's Level 4 Software Engineers, a position one level higher than that given to graduates joining from university. Here, men were found to be underpaid versus women, according to the HR software.

“Within this job code, men were flagged for adjustments because they received less discretionary funds than women,” Lauren Barbeto, lead analyst for pay equity at Google, explained on Monday.

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The algorithms are, apparently, equal across gender and race. Only employees working in a specific group that contains more than 30 people with at least five people per demographic group are considered by the system.

“Compensation should be based on what you do, not who you are…. Our pay equity analysis ensures that compensation is fair for employees in the same job, at the same level, location and performance,” Barbeto added.

"But we know that’s only part of the story. 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."

In 2017, Google was investigated by the US Department of Labor, which probed allegations the tech giant paid women less than men despite them having the same qualifications. That review seemingly went nowhere after a judge ruled the department's demands for internal data was overly broad. Last year, though, a class-action lawsuit accusing Google of deliberately paying women less than men was brought back to court. ®

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