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Google 'taken aback' by inequality accusations, says it's confident there's no gender pay gap

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Google has refuted claims that it systematically underpays female employees by reiterating its gender "blind" approach to remuneration calculations.

In a blogpost on Tuesday by Google's vice-president of people operations, Eileen Naughton highlighted the technology giant's commitment to "extremely scientific and robust" annual analyses to help calculate fair salaries. The model, first outlined last year, takes into account role, job level, job location and performance ratings, but is blind to gender - and, as of recently, race.

The comments come days after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) alleges that the company allows "systematic compensation disparities against women". In a court hearing held Friday, DOL Regional Director Janette Wipper said the agency had received "compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters."

Naughton said the company had been "taken aback" by the allegations, prompting it to reiterate its salary analysis system.

"Each year, we suggest an amount for every employee's new compensation (consisting of base salary, bonus and equity) based on role, job level, job location as well as current and recent performance ratings. This suggested amount is "blind" to gender," explained Naughton.

"The analysts who calculate the suggested amounts do not have access to employees' gender data. An employee's manager has limited discretion to adjust the suggested amount, providing they cite a legitimate adjustment rationale."

Naughton said that the model then measures individual salary calculations against those received by their peers in order to ensure there is "no statistically significant differences between men's and women's compensation."

The Department of Labor initiated an offensive against Google in September 2016, later filing a lawsuit in January calling for access to the company's compensation data.

As the case is still open, a spokesperson for the department told CNBC that it was unable to provide comment on Google's latest post.

Naughton said this had been done "without any supporting data or methodology."

"Our analysis gives us confidence that there is no gender pay gap at Google. In fact, we recently expanded the analysis to cover race in the US," she added.

Naughton said Google's methodology is available to other businesses who want to test their own compensation practices for equal pay.

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