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A conversation between two changemakers uplifting women

Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series of interviews between expert panelists for the Impact Challenge for Women and Girls. 

As the President and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership, I lead an organization that invests in women leaders solving the world’s greatest challenges — from gender-based violence to the climate crisis to economic inequities. 

Saskia Niño De Rivera is one of those leaders. She’s the co-founder of Reinserta, a nonprofit that supports mothers and their infants born in prison and helps adolescents who have committed crimes to reduce the cycle of crime and improve the prison system in Mexico.Saskia and her team at Reinserta work directly with those in the prison system to uncover underlying problems and advocate for the most effective solutions. Through doing so, they’ve impacted 2,600 people in prison. 

Saskia and I are expert panelists for the Impact Challenge for Women and Girls, which will give a total of $25 million to organizations  around the world that are working toward economic empowerment for women and girls. As expert panelists, we’ll help evaluate applications from the thousands of organizations that sent in ideas. Economic empowerment is crucial to achieving gender equity for women everywhere, but it's a broad term that takes many shapes and touches different aspects of life across the world. To learn more about what economic empowerment means for women in Mexico, I spoke to Saskia about her path, her work with at-risk communities, and her advice for future changemakers. 

How were you called to do this work?

When I was a teenager, my uncle was kidnapped which shaped how I see the world. It made me think: Why do these kidnappers exist? What have we done wrong as a society that people think it’s okay to take someone’s life into their hands and trade them for money? It was an “aha moment” that changed how I look at social justice.

Since then I’ve had the privilege — and it’s definitely a privilege — to have the time to find my passion. I work in what I love, which is a huge part of being good at what I do.

From there, you went to work for the police — first as a negotiator and then in the anti-kidnapping division. What did that teach you? 

It taught me a lot of compassion. I visited 138 prisons and walked the halls myself. I learned that no one is born an aggressor or violent person. No one is born a criminal.  

I would never justify a crime, but it’s interesting to learn about the background of the people in prison — the circumstances that led them to commit a crime. Justice has to do with a co-responsibility where no one is left behind, starting with victims and survivors and following with aggressors. We have to recognize people who commit crimes as a societal failure, and we are all a part of that failure.

I work in what I love, which is a huge part of being good at what I do.

Talk to us about the mission of Reinserta and how it has changed. 

The main objective of Reinserta was to change the prison system to better the security of Mexico. But when you go into the system, there are problems everywhere — so many special interests, so much corruption. So my partner Mercedes and I asked ourselves, “Where can we make a difference? What is urgent?”

This year we adapted the mission to work with children and teenagers that are in contact with the criminal justice system, starting with children who are born in prison. Reinserta is constantly adapting because we’re inside the prisons, inside the justice system, creating models based on what really happens in the prisons. 

Saskia visiting a female prison in Mexico City where Reinserta gave a workshop to the women on topics like motherhood, positive parenting and self-care

You’ve been on this path a long time, and it’s a difficult path. What advice would you give to Google Impact Challenge grantees and other people who are trying to make positive change?

Make sure you’re completely passionate about what you’re doing and that you believe in it. You’re going to be in situations — especially in Latin America — where people will think you can’t do it because you’re a woman. 

The best thing I did was partner with Mercedes. When you’re an advocate and activist, doing it by yourself can seem like the best option. It’s not. The best option is having a team that supports you and lives what you’re going through. It’s the right choice for the organization, and it’s the right choice for your mental health and wellbeing.

What does true economic empowerment look like for women in Mexico?

We have to change the way these women value themselves. A lot of them come from “machista” backgrounds — your job is to stay at home and clean and you’re not worth the opportunity to work. How do we break that mentality for girls? We have to make sure that they know they have the same opportunities and abilities as anyone else, and then we have to create the safe conditions for them to be able to have that economic independence.

Our racial equity commitments, one year later

One year ago today, we announced commitments to build sustainable equity for Google’s Black community and beyond, and make our products and programs more helpful to Black users. Since then, we've been working to translate our commitments into lasting meaningful change. Today we’re sharing more updates on our progress.

We’re announcing a $50 million grant to Historically Black Colleges and Universities to broaden access to opportunities for underrepresented groups in STEM, and an update on the more than $320 million we’ve committed to organizations working to address racial inequities over the past year. In our own workplace, we’re sharing progress on how we’re hiring in key growth sites like Atlanta and D.C., and our new onboarding pilot for Black Googlers. And in our products, we’re launching a new Marketing Toolkit and making improvements to our Pixel camera to ensure the Black community is represented in our work.

Creating equity in our workplace

2020 was our largest year ever for hiring Black+ Googlers in the U.S. — both overall, and in tech roles. We’re on track to meet our goals to improve leadership representation of underrepresented groups by 30 percent by 2025 and more than double the number of Black Googlers at all other levels by 2025.

We're also investing in growing Atlanta, Chicago, New York and DC — locations that we’ve heard from our Black+ Googlers contribute to a high quality of life. In 2021 so far, we've grown these sites by more than 650 employees. We’re on track to meet our goals of 1,000 in 2021 and 10,000 by the end of 2025. 

We continue to invest in programming that helps Googlers grow and thrive at Google. This month we launched a new onboarding pilot, which offers tailored content to support Black employees as they begin their Google career. We plan to roll the program out globally by the end of the year. 

Working in close consultation with our Black employees, last year we introduced a student loan repayment program to help Googlers build more financial stability over the long term, since we know that student loan debt disproportionately affects women and communities of color. To date, we’ve paid out $3 million in student loan repayment matches. 

Work related to education 

We’re proud to partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to broaden access to higher education and opportunities in tech. Today we’re announcing a new $50 million unrestricted grant to 10 HBCUs that will help them support scholarships, invest in technology for classrooms, and develop curriculum and career readiness. Each institution will receive a one-time unrestricted financial grant of $5 million, providing institutions with the flexibility to invest in their communities and the future workforce as they see fit. 

This commitment builds on our Pathways to Tech initiative, which is designed to build equity for HBCU computing education, help job seekers find tech roles, and ensure that Black employees have growth opportunities and feel included at work.

Building products and tools for change

As a part of our ongoing commitment to product inclusion, we’re working to make technology more accessible and equitable. Over the last year we've launched a number of important features including a Black-owned business attribute on Maps, Assistant responses on Black Lives Matter, and ways marketers can support Black-owned publishers in Display & Video 360. 

Another example is our recent efforts to build a more equitable camera, where we partnered with 17 professional image makers to make changes to our computational photo algorithms to address long-standing issues with how digital cameras represent Black people in photos. This includes auto balance adjustments to bring out natural brown tones and prevent over-brightening and desaturation of darker skin tones. We’re working to bring these changes to Google Pixel later this year.  

And earlier today, we made our inclusive marketing toolkit available to all marketers. This toolkit has helped us make improvements to how the Black community is represented in our work, and we’re excited to share what we’ve learned with the industry.

Helping create economic opportunity and furthering social justice

Over the past year, we’ve committed more than $320 million to organizations working to address racial inequities. This includes grants to racial and social justice organizations, and support for job skilling initiatives, small business and startups. Here are some examples of what we’ve done so far:

To continue the work, we recently launched a second $5 million Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in the U.S. and announced the 30 founders who would be receiving up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding from Google for Startup’s $2 million Europe focused fund.

We also support Black media and creators. For example, in 2020, we advertised across more than 60 Black-owned media properties as part of our U.S. media spend and will increase our spend on Black-owned media by 4X this year. Here’s a sample of some other initiatives from the last year:

  • The Google News Initiative (GNI) launched the Ad Transformation Lab: a multi-month program to help Black and Latino news publishers in the U.S. and Canada advance their advertising strategies and grow digital revenue, in partnership with Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr., President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) as well as the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) and the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP).  Learning from the success stories of the Ad Transformation Lab, we’ll continue to collaborate with AAN, NAHP and NNPA to launch new business-oriented Labs in coming months. 
  • In May 2021, we created the Google News Initiative Student Fellowship program to help develop and support diverse, up-and-coming news and media talent that are interested in careers at the intersection of technology, media and journalism. Applications for the Fellowship are open until June 21, 2021. 

  • Last October, we announced the $100 million #YouTubeBlackVoices Fund, which has provided funding, training and support from YouTube to help 132 creators and artists from around the world to help grow their audience and build thriving businesses. We’ll open up applications for the  Class of 2022 on June 21, 2021. 

We know there’s more to be done, so we’ll continue to make sure our workplace and products are equitable and representative. I look forward to sharing more updates as this important work moves forward.

$50 million for HBCUs to address the diversity gap in tech

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have stood as pillars of excellence for more than 180 years and continue to serve as havens for Black students in pursuit of higher education. Founded to provide Black Americans with a fundamental human right — the access to a full education, they have grown to produce some of the greatest leaders, thinkers and cultural influencers of our time. These institutions are actively shaping the next generation of Black leaders and are helping build a more diverse workforce across all industries, including tech. In fact, 25% of African American graduates with STEM degrees come from HBCUs. 

Despite the success of HBCUs, Black professionals continue to be underrepresented across the tech industry. We want to do our part to support these institutions as we work to help close the gap, together. Today, I’m proud to announce a $50 million grant to 10 HBCUs that will help support scholarships, invest in technical infrastructure for in-class and remote learning, and develop curriculum and career support programs. 

Here’s a look at what our HBCU partners had to say about the grant and how it will help them:

This financial commitment is our largest to date for HBCUs. Each institution will receive a one-time unrestricted financial grant of $5 million, providing institutions with the flexibility to invest in their communities and the future workforce as they see fit. 

Today’s grant follows a lot of work in the last several years to support HBCUs, including our Pathways to Tech initiative. These initiatives are designed to build equity for HBCU computing education, help job seekers find tech roles, and provide opportunities to accelerate their careers.

This grant further solidifies our commitment to providing access and opportunities for underrepresented groups in tech. We’ll continue to partner closely with HBCUs to achieve this shared goal.

Improve your content with Search Console Insights

Whether your goal is to grow your business and brand, raise awareness for a cause or help people achieve their own goals, an effective way to get it done is to produce great content. Great content comes in many shapes and forms, such as an inspiring blog post, a helpful guide or a fun questionnaire. No matter the format, creating content takes effort and dedication, and you must be highly attentive to what your audiences appreciate. 

To help you better understand which pieces of content resonate with your audiences, we are introducing a new experience called Search Console Insights. This experience joins data from both Search Console and Google Analytics, making it easier to understand your content’s performance. Whether you are a web content creator, a blogger or a website owner, and no matter your level of technical expertise, Search Console Insights can provide you with an overview of how your content is performing. This new experience will gradually be rolled out to all Search Console users in the upcoming days.

Here are some sample questions that this experience will help you answer:

  • What is your best performing content, and which pieces of content are trending?

  • How are your new pieces of content performing?

  • How do people discover your content across the web?

  • What do people search for on Google before they visit your content?

  • Which article refers users to your website and content?

There are a few ways to access Search Console Insights:

  • Select “Search Console Insights” from the top of Search Console’s Overview page.

  • Use this linkto access it directly and save a bookmark (you can always search for “search console insights” on Google and visit our site.)

  • Coming soon:  In theiOS Google App, select “Search Console Insights” in the account menu (tap your profile picture). We are working to also add Android Google App support. 

Even if you don't use Google Analytics, you can still use Search Console Insights. However, to get the full experience and the best insights about your content, we recommend associating (linking) your Google Analytics property with your relevant Search Console property. Please note that for now, Search Console Insights only supports Google Analytics Universal Analytics properties, but we’re working to support  Google Analytics 4.

We care about the content ecosystem, and we appreciate the web creator community that makes the web interesting and useful for so many people. We hope that with time, Search Console Insights will help creators improve and achieve their goals. 

Watch our Search Console Insights intro video below to see the tool in action.

As always, if you have feedback or questions, you can reach us via one of our Search support channels and at @WebCreators on Twitter@GoogleWebCreators on Instagram or on the Google Web Creators YouTube channel.

All In: Our inclusive marketing toolkit

Four years ago, our Chief Marketing Officer, Lorraine Twohill, asked my team to better understand how well we were reflecting the world in our marketing. Since then, we’ve been on a mission to ensure we take inclusion into consideration at every stage of each story we tell. As a Black and gay man who rarely saw myself reflected in media growing up, I know personally the potential impact this could have on others.

When we started to study how inclusive our marketing actually was, we uncovered trends showing some groups of people being left out or misrepresented. For example, women had less speaking time, we too often portrayed Black people in overused roles like playing sports or dancing, and Latinos and people with disabilities were severely underrepresented in our work. This audit data prompted us to reach out to external inclusion experts and survey consumers to build a set of resources and principles to guide our work.

We began to apply what we learned to our own campaigns and creative process. We used this research as the basis for a workshop that, since 2017, has been required for all Googlers who work in marketing and for our external agency partners. And to make sure we had a variety of perspectives contributing to our work, we created an inclusive marketing panel of more than 90 Googlers in marketing who represent a wide range of backgrounds and have provided feedback on more than 300 Google campaigns.

We saw how helpful this work was internally, so we shared it with over 600 agency and industry partners to get their feedback. Now we are sharing All In, our inclusive marketing toolkit that includes the full breadth of resources we’ve compiled over the past several years, with everyone so that we can all accelerate our progress as an industry. In this toolkit, you’ll find what we’ve learned so far about:

  1. Building the right team:Practical advice on how to hire and empower underrepresented talent in your team and partners so your ideas benefit from a variety of perspectives. 

  2. Making inclusive strategic and creative choices:Tools to help you make inclusive choices throughout the marketing and creative process, from defining your audience and media strategy to brief making to writing a script or social copy.

  3. Holding each other accountable:Ways to set goals and measure your progress, through representation audits and creative targets, to ensure your work is on the right track.

  4. Eliminating stereotypes in marketing:An expansive set of U.S.-focused audience guides co-created with groups like ADCOLOR, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, GLAAD, Disability:IN, and many more to help ensure historically underrepresented demographic groups are authentically and positively represented. 

We are proud to partner with the key industry bodies 4A’s, ANA and Ad Council who have reviewed and endorsed All In. Whether you’re a strategist, creative, producer or brand manager, we hope you’ll find these initial resources useful, and we look forward to expanding these insights to more global audiences in the future.

Inclusive marketing is not only our responsibility, but an opportunity. Not just for Google, but for any company that wants to make a positive contribution to how we see ourselves and treat each other. By eliminating harmful stereotypes and portraying historically underrepresented communities, we have a chance to reach and deepen relationships with both new and existing users. We are still just getting started. In creating this site, and through our collaboration with our partners, we know we can do even more to improve representation and belonging in our work and in our workplace. But to create work that authentically reflects the world – we need to be all in.

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