Google Pays Great Salaries, Unless You’re Black or a Woman

Leaked Google salary reveals some Black staff earn an average of $20,000 less than their white co-workers.

Other than getting a job at one of the companies that offer a 4-day work week, landing a position at Google is one the holy grails of modern employment. Is it really all it’s cracked up to be, though? A new report shedding light on how much Google employees earn may have the answer that question.

According to leaked data, Google salaries vary dramatically depending on who you are and where you’re based, with one of the biggest differentiators being a disturbing one: race.

The data shows that Black Google employees earn on average $20,000 less annually than their white co-workers. In addition, women are consistently paid less than men at the company, despite it outwardly priding itself on diversity and inclusion.

The Truth About Google Salaries in 2023

News of Google paying its minority and female staff less was first revealed by Insider and is based on data gleaned from an internal company spreadsheet. The document was compiled independently by Googlers and saw over 12,000 US employees voluntarily share their salary data, along with other relevant information relating to their background, gender, location, job role, and level of seniority.

The numbers were then crunched by Insider to show clear trends in how employees were compensated by Google. On the whole, it doesn’t make for pretty reading, with the average base salary of participating Black/African Google staff sitting at $147,000. This is over $20,000 less than the average salary for employees of White/European descent, which was $171,000.

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The same ugly fact reared its head when analyzing average salaries for specific roles. Insider noted that software engineers were particularly well represented in the dataset and used the role as an illustrative example. There, White/European software engineers earned on average $175,000 annually, compared to just $151,500 for their Black/African coworkers.

Google: Data is “Old” and “Inaccurate”

Google, of course, is not exactly thrilled by the report and its findings.

In a statement, the tech giant said that its salaries were based purely on job level and said that the data central to the report wasn’t as trustworthy as its own annual pay equity process.

“We compensate Googlers based on what they do, not who they are. We run a rigorous pay equity analysis every year to make sure salaries, bonuses and equity awards are fair. This spreadsheet has old, self-reported data that has not been verified and is not an accurate representation of compensation across our workforce.” – a Google spokesperson.

If discrepancy were to exist, it would be because there are more senior white software engineers than Black ones, assuming final pay grades are down to seniority and nothing else (as Google would seem to be implying). This is hardly a mitigating factor, however, and points to the wider issue of minorities being underrepresented in leadership positions, as evidenced most visibly by the appalling lack of Black head coaches in the NFL.

Women Also Underpaid at Google?

The data also reveals a significant gender pay gap at Google, with the average female staff member earning a base salary of $165,000 compared to their male counterpart earning $172,500. Equally concerning is the fact that those who identified as neither male or male (so transgender and non-binary Googlers) earned less still, with average base pay of $154,070.

In fairness to Google, it’s worth mentioning that one of the most specific comparisons in the breakdown of Google salaries — between the role of “Male Engineering Manager” and “Female Engineering Manager” — showed a lesser gender pay gap of $1,000. A lesser pay gap is still a pay gap, while also noteworthy in the bigger picture is how much higher Google’s salaries are than that of the average American. Recent Bureau of Labor stats put this at around $57,000.

Google has courted its fair share of controversy recently. It currently stands on the brink of a historic antitrust trial brought by the US Department of Justice, and on the comparatively mundane front of flexible working, has threatened to penalize remote workers if they fail to comply with its return to office mandate.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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