Googlers to Board: It’s Time to Change

Google workers, along with shareholders, are continuing to pressure Alphabet’s board to act on their concerns.

Below is an excerpt from an article written by David Shadovitz, published in HR Executive, featuring insights from David Greenberg of LRN.  To view the full article, please click here

In response to the resolution, an Alphabet spokeswoman emailed Bloomberg the following statement: “We’re working hard to make Google more representative and build an inclusive workplace where employees feel respected, supported and valued. We report our progress extensively every year, including hiring and attrition rates across lines of race and gender.”

The events at Alphabet represent just the latest example of employee activism, which some predict will become even more visible in the months and years ahead.

What was once a concern for industries such as tobacco, oil and pharma is now affecting fields such as tech, retail and entertainment, says David Greenberg, special advisor to LRN, a global company with offices in New York, London and Mumbai that provides advice in areas such as ethics, regulatory compliance and corporate culture.

“I think we’ve reached a moral moment, and I don’t think it’s likely to pass,” he adds. “Our trust in our institutions are deteriorating, and along with that, the expectations and issues that will confront corporate boards are multiplying and broadening. In my view, there’s no going back.”

Greenberg says boards must begin to view their businesses through a societal and moral lens. “They need to ask the question: What does society expect of a company in these businesses, with these products and services and this footprint?” he says. “And if they do not know or get the answer … they will stay behind the curve.”

LRN’s research suggests that boards are generally doing a poor job answering that question, Greenberg says.  “They’re not focusing on the culture, which is the heartbeat of the place. If they’re not up to speed on that, they’re going to continue to be hit by issues.

“What was once a series of soft issues have now become very hard issues,” he adds. “They’re affecting long-term viability.”

So what’s the takeaway here for HR executives? “My advice is for them to take a proactive, deep dive into the things that are on employees’ minds,” says Greenberg, adding that HR leaders need to “widen their lens” because the issues and concerns of employees are broader than ever before.