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Google Employees Report Declining Confidence in Leaders

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Google is a data-obsessed company, but the recent cascade of employee activism can be hard to quantify. How do you take the temperature of a 90,000-person workforce? In November, employees gave Google’s senior leadership an undeniable signal, when 20,000 workers walked out of their offices to protest sexual harassment policies. The results of Google’s latest annual survey on employee satisfaction, which were internally shared in January, offer another sign.

Asked whether they have confidence in CEO Sundar Pichai and his management team to “effectively lead in the future,” 74 percent of employees responded “positive,” as opposed to “neutral” or “negative” in late 2018, down from 92 percent “positive” the year before. The 18-point drop left employee confidence at its lowest point in at least six years. The results of the survey, known internally as Googlegeist, also showed a decline in employees’ satisfaction with their compensation, with 54 percent saying they were satisfied, compared with 64 percent the prior year.

The drop in employee sentiment helps explain why internal debate around compensation, pay equity, and trust in executives heated up in recent weeks—and why an HR presentation from 2016, went viral inside the company three years later.

The presentation, first reported by Bloomberg and reviewed by WIRED, dates from July 2016, about a year after Google started an internal effort to curb spending. In the slide deck, Google’s human-resources department presents potential ways to cut the company’s $20 billion compensation budget. Ideas include: promoting fewer people, hiring proportionately more low-level employees, and conducting an audit to make sure Google is paying benefits “(only) for the right people.” In some cases, HR suggested ways to implement changes while drawing little attention, or how to sell the change to Google employees. Some of the suggestions were implemented, like eliminating the annual employee holiday gift; most were not.

Another, more radical proposal floated inside the company around the same time didn’t appear in the deck. That suggested converting some full-time employees to contractors, to save money. A person familiar with the situation said that proposal was not implemented. In July, Bloomberg reported that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of Google’s workforce were temps, contractors, and vendors.

The slide deck also includes suggestions for how Google might reinvest some of the savings from these cost cuts, including creating a stand-alone university building in the Bay Area called Google University, hiring more women and minorities, and giving new parents globally 16 weeks parental leave.

A Controversial Company-Wide Meeting

The 2016 presentation, which began circulating inside Google in mid-January, might not have made such an impact with workers if not for executive comments at a company-wide meeting a few days earlier that some employees considered tone deaf. The meeting was to discuss the Googlegeist results, where managers attempted to put a positive spin on the decline in confidence. Prasad Setty, Google’s vice president of people operations, told the room that dissatisfaction around compensation came from employees who didn’t get promoted and don’t understand how compensation at Google works, according to people familiar with the matter.

The meeting sparked angry commentary about executives on Google’s internal message board for memes, according to employees. Some workers found management’s approach patronizing. One Google employee was frustrated with management’s evasiveness, but wondered if the employee backlash stemmed from the fact that executives were trying to explain individual compensation practices,, when activist employees wanted answers on demands for pay equity for contractors, women, and others, first raised during the November walkout.

Once they saw the 2016 memo, employees zeroed in on the suggestion to reduce the number of people promoted by 2 percent—which meant that some qualified people might miss out on promotions because of a cost-cutting strategy they knew nothing about. “They have a deliberate and intentional, well-crafted narrative that they consistently rely on to continue taking advantage of people,” says a Google employee who requested anonymity. “The big lie is that the grueling interview process, performance review process, conversion process—that all of these things exist because we have a meritocratic system of rewards and the bar for excellence is really high.”

At another company-wide meeting a few days later to discuss compensation, Pichai and Setty sought to apologize about the memo and take a more candid approach with employees. Pichai said the document had never crossed his desk and that he would have rejected the suggestion about promotions if it had. Following the meeting, employees thanked Pichai for appearing and praised his candor on the internal meme message board.

High Pay, but New Questions

Google is consistently ranked as the best place to work in America. Median pay is $197,000, according to the most recent SEC filings; among the tech giants, only Facebook has a higher median pay. But recent media reports have given employees more information about how Google’s vast resources are allocated. A gender bias lawsuit filed in 2017 claims Google assigned new female hires to lower levels and denied them promotions.The November walkout was prompted by a New York Times report that Android founder Andy Rubin received a $90 million exit package, even after a sexual harassment complaint the company found credible.

The disclosure about contractors also rankled. Popular perception, even within Google, is that contractors are hired for service or non-technical roles. But inside Alphabet, Google’s parent company, contractors work as engineers, recruiters, and even manage teams, Bloomberg reported. Anna, a contractor in Mountain View who requested to only use her first name, told WIRED that she doesn’t fit the image Google would like to project. She acts as a liaison between Google and outside vendors and says she is “paid really well.” Still, she does not have access to healthcare benefits or time off and she can’t attend parties for launches that she helped prepare. Perry, who conducted user research for Google in Seattle until his contract ended last week, said that managers may not know how much money contract workers are taking home.

Some of Google’s well-paid staffers, including organizers of the Google walkout, have been trying to draw more attention to practices they find exploitative, especially for a company that posted $21.8 billion in profit in the first nine months of last year. Their concerns echo the larger political movement around inequality, which has focused on tech titans and how their business practices have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few, even within their own companies.

The secrecy around compensation at Google has been a flashpoint before. In 2015, Erica Joy Baker, then an engineer at Google, started a spreadsheet for employees to share their salaries, as a way to combat the “chilling effect” that comes from discouraging employees to talk about their pay. Since the latest survey results were announced, employees have been adding their salaries to Baker’s spreadsheet, which is still active; meanwhile, contractors have been sharing their benefits and pay to compare agency practices.

Despite the overall good reviews, Pichai disappointed some employees with his answers on contractors. Asked why Google has contractors struggling to live in the Bay Area while he himself makes hundreds of millions, Pichai said it was a cost of living issue beyond Google’s control.

“They could totally afford to pay people a living wage,” Stephanie Parker, who works in policy for YouTube, told WIRED. “They’ve said multiple times, ‘We’re leading the market, what we do other companies follow.’ Okay then, pay your people. Other companies will follow.”


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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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