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Google violates diversity standards yet gets rewarded FCC White Spaces grant

DailyFinance reports

Nine companies, including Google (GOOG), have received Federal Communications Commission approval to use unused broadcast frequencies — so-called “white spaces” — to expand the availability of wireless broadband.

“While the operation of multiple database administrators may present some coordination challenges, we find it is in the public interest to have multiple parties developing business models for this new mechanism,” the FCC said in a statement Wednesday. “The value of this exercise extends beyond databases for the TV bands, as the Commission is also considering employing similar database approaches in other spectrum bands.”

The use of white spaces for broadband “will lead to the next generation of wireless technologies,” Larry Alder, Google business operations principal, wrote In a blog post Thursday. “Today, we’re one step closer to a world with super WiFi.”

This is exciting news especially for new innovative wireless services and because there is not enough spectrum to go around to accommodate all the new and next generation of services.  My only beef with this announcement is my growing frustration over the absence of diversity at our nation’s technology and innovation companies: Apple, Google, Amazon, eBay, Level 3, Yahoo!, CBS, Newscorp, Motorola and others continuously and pervasively refuse to release their EEO data or submit to any survey on their diversity and hiring.  These companies were among the over 300 that refused to even reply to Senator Menedez’s 2010 Fortune 500 Diversity inclusion survey.  Facebook’s diversity is also lacking as well, although I notice it is hiring worldwide.

According to Current Population Survey, there were 94,000 blacks employed in computer and electronic manufacturing in 2008 and I am certain the numbers for Hispanics, Asians and Native  [EDITED TO ADD: According to the National Science Foundation, over 160,00science and engineering bachelor degrees earned in 2008 were conferred on minorities.  Over 19,000 of the masters degrees in science and engineering fields , comprising of over 25% of these degrees conferred in 2008, were earned by minorities. Even if you remove from the mix Asian/Pacific Islanders who enter theses fields disproportionately to their existence in the US population, that is still a lot of candidates to recruit from so there is no excuse].

I find it hard to believe that in 2011, those companies can have such a difficult time finding qualified persons of color to work among their ranks in substantive positions.  Appalling that our government would reward contracts to companies like Google without requiring some sort of diversity inclusion.

This revelation is startling because Google’s award would seemingly be in  violation of of the standards set by the new Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI)  which is responsible for ensuring that all financial agencies have diversity in management, employment and procurement. The directors of OMWI must develop and implement standards and procedures to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, the fair inclusion and utilization of minorities, women, and minority-owned and women-owned businesses in all business and activities of the agency at all levels, including in procurement, insurance, and all types of contracts.  [EDITED TO ADD FOR CLARIFICATION: The standards would have befall on the FCC to implement on its PRIVATE SECTOR contractors if it would have been subject to it as the financial services sector is [as William Tucker pointed out].  Shame though. I wonder if the FCC’s OBO has standards for procurement.]

To that extent, a company like Google with woeful diversity records would not be eligible to receive a government benefit until it does something about its record.

Wolters Kluwer did a great summary of the new office.  Maybe, I should send over a complimentary link to my friends in Silicon Valley.

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6 comments

  • This is not that surprising when you consider that NTIA and RUS gave away over $7 billion for broadband projects and almost no money went to minority or women-owned firms.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Craig Settles and Vee Edwards, Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt. Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt said: Google violates diversity procurement standards yet gets rewarded FCC White Spaces grant http://bit.ly/hzTu9y […]

  • @ CJ: The Federal grants for broadband and technology development were allocated to state, local, and municipal gov’ts, from where individual projects would be planned and implemented. In Washington, D.C., for example, the city’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer has been hosting open summits announcing the receipt of BTOP funding and inviting the participation of individuals and local firms in project design and construction.

    @ Jeneba: All TV band database administrators are required to comply with EEO laws. (The OMWI, however, has no jurisdiction over them.) With that said — and given the underrepresentation of women plus African-, Latino-, and Asian-Americans at all levels of the telecom and electronics industries — wouldn’t it be more accurate to attribute the low participation of minorities as engineers, programmers, etc., to socioeconomic and cultural factors that transcend a given industry, if not private enterprise on the whole?

  • William, the OMWI does indeed have jurisdiction INDIRECTLY. How else do minority subcontractors get hired but through government insistence or encouragement that those who work with the government hire and subcontract with minority firms? The jurisdiction is over the FCC who is supposed to CONTRACT with companies that comply with some sort of diversity standards. GOOGLE would NOT PASS THE STANDARDS OMWI WOULD IMPOSE ON THE FCC. GET IT?

    Further, I don’t think GOOGLE needs YOU TO DEFEND IT. You too seem to fall into the trap to assume there AREN’T qualified minorities out there. COME ON MAN, if YOU were privy to WHAT GOOGLE TRIES TO HIDE YOU will see that minorities with degrees apply to work there ALL THE TIME AND THEY DON’T HIRE THEM. So you think there are NO MINORITIES QUALIFIED TO WORK AT GOOGLE? Is that your position?

    I’m not buying it, there are hundreds and thousands of minorities graduating at HBCUs alone annually. Minorities earned over 160,000 of the Science and Engineering bachelor degrees at all institutions in 2008 according to the National Science Foundation. If it wanted to diversify its workforce it CANNOT USE THAT AS AN EXCUSE. Why is GOOGLE not going there to look for qualified minorities to diversify its ranks? Because it believes what you apparently believe that there aren’t sufficient qualified ones available. This is 2011. That excuse would fly in the 1950s. You can go ahead and excuse all major corporations who like to keep their staffs lily White if you want because people like you, me and Craig are anomalies, I guess.

  • “… the OMWI does indeed have jurisdiction INDIRECTLY.”

    That’s 100% incorrect, Jeneba. The OMWI is to serve as an overseer on Federal financial regulatory agencies, as specified by the recent financial reform bill. The FCC has no involvement with regulating any aspect of the financial industry, and TV band database administration clearly isn’t a financial industry matter.

    I believe I acknowledged minorities are underrepresented in the telecom and electronics industries. But it’s also true that the demographics are partially attributable to disproportionally low numbers of minorities obtaining the proper training to ascend the middle and upper levels of either industry. Minorities are also behind the curve with respect to initiating capital formation and entrepreneurship beyond a ‘Mom-n’-Pop’ level. The shallow pool of qualified minority professionals and 8(a) certified firms from which corporations can recruit and/or partner with is very real and across all industries. (Many MBE certification programs are rife with corruption, but that’s another topic.) I asked whether this phenomenon could be more effectively addressed with other tactics, given Google, etc., aren’t (to the best knowledge available) actively discriminating against minorities and neither created nor is exacerbating this competitive imbalance with respect to our legal system, economy, and politics.

  • Google would be in violation of those standards, even if your argument that don’t aren’t required to set up an OMWI, FCC already has an office that makes recommendations that includes the same standards. GOOGLE would violate those. What’s wrong with recruiting widely, casting a large net? And are you telling me that all who work at Google came out the womb qualified? No. It has training programs for those straight out of school or with little experience. You don’t need an 8A for that. Or do minorities have to go somewhere and get their experience elsewhere before being worthy enough to be considered by a Google or a Yahoo!? Sounds like a double standard.

    What’s wrong with: (1) recruiting at historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, women’s colleges, and colleges that typically serve majority-minority populations; (2) sponsoring and recruiting at job fairs in urban communities; (3) placing employment advertisements in newspapers and magazines oriented toward minorities and women; (4) partnering with organizations that are focused on developing opportunities for minorities and women to place talented young minorities and women in industry internships, summer employment, and full-time positions; (5) where feasible, partnering with inner-city high schools, girls’ high schools, and high schools with majority minority populations to establish or enhance financial literacy programs and provide mentoring; and (6) any other mass media communications??

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