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Google refuses to hand over salary data after Labor Dept accuses it of underpaying women

Google is refusing to hand over salary data to the government after the Labor Dept accused it of underpaying female employees …

The government sued Google back in January after an initial analysis suggested a problem.

The Labor Department sued Google in January after the company refused to submit 19 years of pay data for more than 21,000 employees for a routine audit into its pay practices. The department needs more Google salary data because an initial review of 2015 figures “found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.”

Google says that an internal analysis shows no gender pay gap, and gave three reasons for refusing to comply with the demand for the data.

Google argued the Labor Department’s request was overly broad, a violation of its employees’ privacy, and costly to comply with.

Google is one of a number of tech companies where women are underrepresented in the workforce, with female employees making up just 31% of the employees. An investment firm which has pushed for greater salary transparency in tech companies says that it’s no longer good enough to rely on internal analysis.

“They [Google] say, ‘Trust us, there is no gender pay gap. We’ve got everything under control,’” said Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, a boutique investment firm that has pressed tech companies to release salary information. “A trust-us approach is no longer helpful or useful when other companies are disclosing the data. It makes it look like they have something to hide.”

Apple, Amazon and Microsoft all agreed to Arjuna’s request to share salary data, but Google seemingly changed its mind after initially agreeing.

Google abruptly reneged on an agreement with Arjuna last year to reveal the figure if Arjuna withdrew a shareholder proposal requesting the tech firm to do so, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “After further consideration, we are not able to agree to the proposal,” a Google executive wrote in April to Ms. Lamb, according to the emails. Google declined to comment on the emails.

Google said that it was confident in its own processes, and had already released some data to the government. An analysis by Glassdoor, whose data is based on employee reviews, found that a 16.3% pay gap at the company shrank to 1.6% when factoring in role, experience and education.

Google CFO Ruth Porat discussed the rationale for withholding the data in the Re/code interview below starting at 19:00.

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