He becomes the first African-American to serve on the board of Google or its parent, Alphabet
Roger Ferguson, widely regarded as one of the country’s top economists, has joined the board of directors at Alphabet — the holding company nested above Google. He becomes the first African-American to serve on the board of Alphabet or Google.
Ferguson will certainly have an influence on diversity, but that’s not the key reason he is being added to the board. He has some serious bona fides in finance, including serving on the governing board of the Federal Reserve from 1997 to 2006. For seven of those years he was the vice chairman. He is currently president and CEO of TIAA, a major insurance and financial services firm.
Google announced that Ferguson will receive a $1 million equity grant in Google.
Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt said in a statement: “He has a long record of distinguished and thoughtful service in the private and public sectors, and deeply understands how technology can improve the lives of people around the world.”
To be sure, Ferguson is being added because of his skills as an economist, but the appointment also shows that Google is getting serious about adding more diversity to the company. Currently 60 percent of all Google employees are white men. Thirty-one percent are Asian and three percent Hispanic. African-Americans make up just two percent of Google’s workforce.
“We commend Alphabet for appointing Roger Ferguson, their first African-American board member,” Rev. Jesse Jackson said. “Mr. Ferguson is a distinguished leader who can help lead Alphabet into the next era. In 2015 we challenged Google to release their EEO-1 workforce report, and execute a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan that reached not only to the workforce, but to their board room and C-suite leadership team. With (this) appointment they have done just that.”