The move frustrated workers who claimed that the initiatives were not worth their own investment
As confirmed by Business Insider, Verily Life Sciences, the Alphabet-owned healthcare firm, is eliminating spot incentives for workers. Alternatively, the funds would be channeled to finance programs on equity and inclusion. The transfer angered staff, most of whom worked long hours on COVID-19 research projects at the firm.
Employees claimed the move suggested such measures was not a priority in a message to management published by Business Insider. They wrote: “The use of spot bonus payments to subsidize social justice projects like Healthy@Work for HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], the recruitment of underserved communities in clinical trials, and an internal Product Inclusion organization indicates that such initiatives are charitable causes not deserving of their very own investment.”
Staff asked for the reinstatement of spot rewards and called on a group of managers and employees to be formed to assess progress against integration targets. In the fourth quarter of 2019, Alphabet, Verily’s parent company, posted revenue of $46.07 billion. Due to the Alphabet’s good financial role, it would not be hard to invest in inclusion and diversity, the workers said.
Verily has been working since March to carry out Project Baseline, a platform for citizens around the US who want COVID-19 checked. In a media briefing on March 13, President Trump unveiled the proposal, falsely claiming that Google was behind this effort. At a moment when this was getting off the ground, the announcement placed Project Baseline in the public spotlight.
The strain from this announcement — including the very real need for COVID-19 monitoring and screening — on Verily workers culminated in long working hours. “If you don’t work on the weekend, you’re shown as slacking off,” a Business Insider worker told me. Which made the reports of rewards stinging despite the tacit argument from the organization in which diversity did not deserve its very own expenditure.
“Just eliminating workplace spot rewards at what we find to be the most grueling and difficult time in our employment demonstrates a lack of respect,” employees wrote in message.
Verily CEO Andrew Conrad is scheduled to meet with Project Framework staff on Wednesday to review the message. Verily, a request for comment was not returned immediately. Verily spokeswoman Carolyn Wang also justified the company’s position in a message to Business Insider.
“At this moment, we feel it is vital that we place our money where our mouth is and guide a few of our discretionary money — including those usually used to finance a spot bonus system (which is different and distinct from our annual bonus plan) — to strengthen our efforts to ensure that our goods and services are accessible to those who require them,” she said. “It involves some minor compromises, so why aren’t we going to do just that?
Correction: This report was updated to state that, in the fourth quarter of 2019, Alphabet made sales of $46.07 billion.