Anny Tampling, Regional Market HR Director, Google APAC, on how to foster an inclusive environment for every Googler, be it in terms of gender parity, an openness to forms of sexual orientation, disability or ethnic and social mix that reflects the wider society, in this exclusive interview with Jerene Ang. 

Q How does Google define diversity?

In Google, we see diversity as building a workforce that is more representative of our users and a fair working environment that creates a sense of belonging for everyone. This means offering equal employment opportunities regardless of race, colour ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, physical or neurological abilities, age, citizenship, marital status and gender identity.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being very important), how important is Diversity to Google? Why?

100! Google has always committed to make diversity, equity, and inclusion part of everything we do—from how we build our products to how we build a globally diverse workforce.

It’s particularly important here in Asia - a region that is diverse on its own. We know that diversity breeds innovation and creativity and makes us a better company for our employees and the billions of people who rely on our products around the world.

We are committed to advancing a diverse and fair Google by ensuring parity in how we source and hire new Googlers, as well as in performance reviews, promotions, and retention. We have a strong network of Employee Resource Groups, Leadership Councils, Diversity councils, along with a network of allies showing their support and bringing to life an inclusive culture. We all have a role to play at Google in creating a culture of belonging, empowering all voices to be heard. The sense of belonging is important now more than ever during this challenging time, while many of us are adjusting to new ways of working such as working from home.

For the LGBTQ+ community, we have taken steps to support and create a safe working environment not just in this region, but globally. We do this by offering training for employees to help build awareness and understanding including mandatory unconscious bias and bias-busting training, as well as trans 101 training. Google offers resources for Googlers to find out how they can be an ally and support the LGBTQ+ community further.

Since 2014, we’ve published our Diversity Annual Report, to provide greater data transparency and find ways to increase the diversity of our employee base, be it for women or other underrepresented groups. In addition to the data, leaders work closely with our diversity experts to identify opportunities in their organisations, helping to ladder up to our objective.

Q What are the diversity initiatives you have at Google that you are the most proud of?

We are proud of our work in supporting our LGBTQ+ employees in APAC.

Last year, we worked closely with Google employees from the trans community to launch our international trans healthcare programme, which is an additional benefit for all trans Googlers to access medical support for transitioning who do not have cover as part of their local healthcare plan.

We’re committed to and provide same-sex health coverage for Googlers and their spouses or partners just about everywhere in the world.

In this present time, we understand it’s important for Googlers to continue experiencing a sense of community and support through their affinity groups and networks. So we organised a virtual APAC Pride Month celebration for the first time with the goal of maintaining connections and celebrating with one another, while fostering a more diverse and inclusive culture in Google. We had strong turnout for educational sessions like 'How to be a better ally' and 'Inclusive language workshop'.

In implementing these initiatives, what were the challenges faced? And, how did you overcome these challenges?

When we think about diversity in the workplace, it’s important to recognise that there are many dimensions of diversity that we need to address whether this is gender parity, an openness to forms of sexual orientation, disability or ethnic and social mix that reflects the wider society.

This is why it’s important for us to set the right tone and continue to create a culture of trust and openness so all Googlers know they can speak up and be rewarded for driving a great culture of diversity and inclusion, and also call out what isn’t right. Some of our policies were introduced because Googlers have the forum to share what matters to the community. We haven’t got all the answers but as a learning organisation, we are striving to do better all the time to ensure our employees feel supported and that’s important to us.

Q What was the impact of the diversity initiatives on Google employees, and how does that translate into business impact in terms of dollars and cents?

When you foster an inclusive environment for every Googler - especially those from underrepresented groups - and make sure everyone feels like they belong, this in turn empowers great work and boosts innovation.

This emphasis on diversity and inclusion translates to the products that Google builds for everyone. Understanding the various needs from a diverse community ensures our products are highly accessible to the billions of people who come to Google for knowledge, information, inspiration and entertainment. For example, a blind Googler on the Chrome OS accessibility services team was able to use his personal experiences to make Chromebooks more accessible for people with a wide range of disabilities.

What is one piece of advice you would give to your HR peers looking to set up similar D&I initiatives?

All companies can build a culture of diversity and belonging through focused intention, deep listening to the day to day experience of their people , education on the principles of belonging, programmes to deliberately implement those principles, and most importantly, through fostering a collective accountability for building belonging for everyone.

As we continue through this uncertain time, diversity and inclusion will remain a crucial priority at Google to meet the needs of our employees, their families, and our communities. By building a workforce that is more representative of our users and a workplace that creates a sense of belonging for everyone, we hope that ultimately all employees, from all groups, will genuinely feel like they belong at Google.

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