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LETTER: Google is not at fault for not engaging in affirmative action



letter-to-the-editor-02

Jaclyn Ferguson would have us believe Google is hypocritical in simultaneously promoting Black History Month while not hiring enough black employees (Google’s Black History Month advertising is hypocritical, IDS Opinions, February 6). It would appear that Ms. Ferguson is comparing apples and oranges in her argument.

She mentions that Google celebrates the accomplishments of Beyoncé, Maya Angelou and LeBron James, and wonders why Google can celebrate their accomplishments while only 4.8% of their hires in 2019 were black. The answer to the question is that Google hires people who can serve Google’s business model.  Beyoncé, Maya Angelou and LeBron James would be of little value to Google in maintaining and growing their business. Similarly, applicants with skills valuable to Google wouldn’t necessarily be of any value to popular music, to contemporary poetry or to the NBA. 

Shall we fault and criticize those who purchase music and attend concerts, those who read poetry and those who draft NBA players for not engaging in affirmative action?

Google’s business is serving its constituency, its target markets. If they were forced to hire based on ethnic and cultural criteria, then their employment base would have a desirable diversity, but would they still be able to deliver the same level of shareholder value to their stockholders? Whether we like it or not, publicly held companies in this country exist for the sole reason of improving shareholder value. Right now, ‘shareholder value’ is expressed in terms of money. If that were to change, and to be expressed in other terms, say social equity, then the situation might be different.

Benjamin Schultz

Senior lecturer, Kelley School of Business

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