Google Receives ‘Blacklash’ After Report Of Problems With HBCU Recruitment Pipeline Program

Google Receives ‘Blacklash’ After Report Of Problems With HBCU Recruitment Pipeline Program

Google Receives Blacklash After Report of Problems With HBCU Recruitment Pipeline Program. Photo: Credit: michaeljung / Istock

Google’s Howard West program, which helps induct students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities into the company’s work culture to improve their chances of recruitment and diversify its workforce, has been criticized for failing to deliver.

The tech giant created the program in 2017, offering up to 30 Black students a summer internship every year in a bid to increase the number of African Americans on its staff. However, it did not promise the recruits a job upon the completion of the internship.

The U.S. tech industry has faced complaints for years that it is not diverse enough and only hires from predominantly white institutions even though there are more than 60 HBCUs that graduate computer science students.

Google, like many in the tech industry, has sometimes blamed the “pipeline” problem for the disparity, suggesting that there aren’t enough qualified Black candidates to fill tech roles.

Some participants and faculty criticized the scheme, described it as disorganized despite its underlying “positive intent” and said there were culture clashes.

“It seemed to grow way too fast, which led to a lot of disorganization early on,” said Dr. Curtis Cain, an early Howard West faculty member, in a CNBC interview. “For the most part, people had positive intent but it felt like the program transitioned into Google being more interested in pumping out software engineers without taking into account many other aspects.”

Google said that 95 percent of recent participants had given positive feedback about the program.

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The number of technical engineering staff that identified as Black at Google increased from 1 percent in 2016 to about 4 percent by the end of 2020, according to its latest annual diversity report.

A fired Black Google executive said the company believed that HBCU computer graduates lacked basic coding skills. A Black queer woman who was terminated by the tech giant said Google was not only lacking in diversity but also retaliated against those who speak out against racist policies.

“The time I spent recruiting at HBCUs says otherwise by the way. The kids at Howard and every other school I worked with are simply BRILLIANT. Period,” wrote April Christina Curley, a former Google recruiter, in a Twitter thread.


Earlier in February, leaders of five HBCUs met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai to discuss the company’s relationship with the schools in the wake of anti-HBCU-graduate discrimination allegations made by a former Google employee.