Google executive Karan Bhatia testified Tuesday that thousands of company employees declaring a black conservative woman’s perspective unworthy of “inclusion” was not a problem, because Google has nearly 100,000 employees worldwide.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Google VP Karan Bhatia why the company’s Artificial Intelligence advisory counsel dissolved rather than include Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation. According to Cruz, 2,500 Google employees signed a petition supporting James’ removal, stating that her opinion views are “not valid” and “not worthy of inclusion.” Bhatia dismissed that fact by saying those thousands of people are only “two percent” of Google’s workforce — though he did not state what percentage it is more specifically within its U.S.-based workforce.
Cruz asked Bhatia: “Senator Blackburn asked about the advisory council that you put together on artificial intelligence. One of the people on that advisory channel was Kay Cole James who is the head of the Heritage Foundation. You worked at the Heritage Foundation I believe you said, do you consider the Heritage Foundation to be some fringe organization?”
Bhatia replied, “no sir I consider it a conservative organization,” to which Cruz said: “So 2,500 Google employees signed a petition to have Ms. James removed from the council and they said, quote ‘by appointing James to the ATAC, Google elevates and endorses her views implying that hers is a valid perspective worthy of its inclusion in this decision making, this is unacceptable.'”
Cruz continued: “So you have 2,500 employees at Google saying that Ms. James, who by the way is an African American woman who was one of the first women to desegregate Richmond public schools, 2,500 employees saying that her view is not valid or worthy of inclusion. Google in response to this, dissolved the entire committee. Do you understand when you see that kind of bias saying ‘a conservative African American woman’s views are not valid and not worthy of inclusion’ that the American people would say ‘these guys are silencing voices they disagree with.'”
Bhatia replied to Cruz stating: “Senator, the 2,500 amounts to something around two percent of the Google employees.” Cruz replied: “But Google acted on their recommendation, you dissolved the committee.” Bhatia denied this saying: “No Senator, we did not, what happened in that situation is that it’s a committee that consisted of a number of members, as time progressed a number of members of the committee other than Ms. James decided to fall off the committee, to withdraw from the committee.”
Cruz replied: “Is this your testimony Mr. Bahtia because I’m finding this difficult to credit. Is it your testimony that Google did not dissolve the committee because your employees were mad that anyone right of center was included?” Bhatia stated: “We dissolved the committee Senator, I think we were clear at the end of the day that it was not going to be viable to continue the council given what we were seeing happen with other members of the committee.”