Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Karen Bass (D-CA) called on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to promote “creators of color” in pursuit of “diversity” across its platforms, including YouTube. They offered their remarks during Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, DC.
Jackson Lee claimed — without qualification — that “there are not enough individuals of diversity,” asking Pichai how YouTube is “distributing resources to U.S. diversity.”
JACKSON LEE: My community is diverse. As you well may have heard, the Congressional Black Caucus has been working extensively with Google and other search engines to recognize there are not enough individuals of diversity and African-Americans. My district has a huge number of musicians, artists, and creators from all areas of entertainment.
I’d be interested in what efforts are being taken by Google’s platform YouTube to promote diversity, inclusion with its employees. What are the demographics of YouTube’s U.S. employees, and also, how is YouTube currently distributing resources to U.S. diversity? But the focus is on diversity. What are you doing? YouTube is a great message, and there is a whole population growing of diverse persons including African-Americans.
PICHAI: Diversity is an area we are very committed to. YouTube, as you highlighted is a platform, where, as we reach out to content creators, we want to ensure there [are] diverse perspectives, and we do reach out to minority communities, and we engage with them to make sure they have a voice on the platform. It is something we are committed to doing.
As a company, we have been undertaking a lot of work. We were one of the first to publish a transparency report. We publish our representation numbers externally.
There is a lot more work left to do. We acknowledge that, but it is an area we have engaged with the Congressional Black Caucus, and w e are committed to doing more.
JACKSON LEE: Let me invite you to Texas, and the 18th Congressional District on these very important issues, and I’d like to work with Google, as we go forward, on some of the many issues that I’ve raised here today.
PICHAI: It would be a pleasure to do that.
Bass, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, called on Pichai to promote the “voices” of “online creators of color.”
BASS: I also wanted to ask you a question about online creators of color, where mainstream media outlets often fail to cater to communities of color with relatable content or resolve lingering issues of underrepresentation or misrepresentation. Communities of color have sought out digital mediums to tell their stories, and in some cases this has been very successful, and it’s led to larger networks recognizing the talent, and in other cases it’s given a platform to voices that would otherwise be silenced.
So I want to know what policies Google might be developing to put in place to ensure that the voice of online creators can expand.
PICHAI: YouTube has a lot of community outreach programs. We partner with other organizations that do important work in this area, but today, when you look at YouTube, you do see a platform with a very diverse set of perspectives and opinions. It’s the strength of the platform and the reach it provides to voices.
BASS: Could I get the information about your outreach, specifically, who you do outreach to? That would be very helpful.
PICHAI: I would be very happy to do that.
Google highlights its own policies of hiring and promoting in pursuit of “diversity and inclusion,” publicly sharing statistics via annual reports on the composition of its employee base along the lines of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
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