A grassroots action by a Google employer that helped fellow workers gain equitable pay with one another left bosses at the internet company less than happy.
After having a chat with co-workers about remuneration, Erica Baker, a software engineer at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, created a spreadsheet in which she entered her salary details. After distributing it internally and tweeting it, the idea took off like wildfire.
And employers found out that not all salaries were equal at the internet company, even between workers who did the same job.
As more and more added their details, management became aware of the document. Baker was summoned before her manager, who was not best pleased.
Baker recalls that her manager said: “Higher up people weren’t happy. She wasn’t happy. Why did I do it? Do you know what could happen?”
“Nothing,” Baker replied. “It’s illegal to retaliate against employees for sharing salaries.”
She was not fired but instead punished. The company has a peer bonus scheme, where employers can nominate another to receive $150. Baker claims that seven co-workers nominated her for peer bonuses. She received none.
“Peer bonuses are rewarded at a manager’s discretion,” Baker tweeted. “My manager was rejecting them all.”
Baker, who worked for Google for almost 10 years, claims around 5% of the company used the sheet and many used it to gain equitable pay.
She ended her story by tweeting: “The world didn’t end. Everything didn’t go up in flames because salaries got shared. But shit got better for some people.”
Before I left, about 5% of former co. had shared their salary on that sheet. People asked for & got equitable pay based on data in the sheet— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) 17 Juillet 2015
Guaranteed that if Ida Wells were alive & working at Google today, there'd be many private calendar meetings focused on "her future" there.— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) 17 Juillet 2015
Baker, who now works at Slack Technologies in San Francisco, said she was forced to put her head above the parapet after the internet company celebrated African American suffragette and civil rights leader Ida B Wells last week.
“Fighting for justice and fairness inside Google doesn’t go over well. Salary sharing is only one example. Guaranteed that if Ida Wells were alive & working at Google today, there’d be many private calendar meetings focused on ‘her future’ there.”
Google, which was voted best company to work for by Fortune magazine six times and announced profit of $2.3billion (2bn euros) in April, refused to comment.