Headquartered in the US, the company was founded in 1998 as Google, then restructured and renamed Alphabet in 2015. Alphabet offers a variety of services under the Google brand, including its search engine, and operates the YouTube video streaming service. It develops the Android mobile operating system and operates the Google Play Store app, which has over 2 billion active users. In addition, the company provides retail and wholesale telecommunication services globally, and manufactures consumer hardware and devices, including home speakers, smartphones and tablets. It is also a leading cloud services provider, with 146 points of presence across more than 200 countries and territories.
Alphabet supports affordable digital access for low-income households in the US through free subscriptions to its fibre optic broadband service via its Google Fiber Community programme. It has a range of initiatives supporting accessibility for users with disabilities, including adhering to internationally recognised design principles in its products. The company also discloses the number of its employees with disabilities globally. Moreover, it has internal training programmes for its user experience designers to make its workplaces more accessible. Alphabet also reports its indirect economic impact in the US.
Through Grow with Google, Alphabet provides digital skills training, ranging from basic online skills to tracking results with analytics, to over 20 million participants. The company has a programme to teach digital skills to teachers in Canada and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills to people from underrepresented communities. To support students with access to online education in remote areas, Google powers school buses in the US with Wi-Fi, devices and onboard educator support, converting them to ‘rolling study halls’.
Alphabet follows industry best practice by making its information security management certification publicly available and publishing the number of government demands for data it receives by country. The company has a mechanism to report online harm to children and assists law enforcement in this area. It also has a child safety website and several educational initiatives to help families with digital well-being.
Alphabet is one of the leading companies on the benchmark in practicing open and ethical innovation. It has an open source repository and publishes an annual open source report providing metrics on its open source community and projects. Further, the company promotes the tech innovation ecosystem through its regional accelerators for start-ups around the world and specific programmes for start-ups founded by people from underrepresented groups. Alphabet also reports the number of women employed in tech roles at the company. Moreover, it discloses the locations of its research and development (R&D) centres, and it is one of the few companies on the benchmark that has ethical AI principles that also include human rights considerations.
While Alphabet reports the number of participants who benefit from its access-related programmes, it can also consider carrying out third-party assessments to understand and communicate the impact of these programmes. Furthermore, it can disclose how the economic value it generates is distributed among its stakeholders and report its income tax payments and employment in its countries of operation beyond the US.
Alphabet has a Code Next programme for high school students to learn about coding and computer science careers. However, it can develop a programme focused on helping adults become specialists in digital professions. Along with reporting the number of programme participants, the company can also conduct impact assessments for its existing as well as any new programmes in this area.
Alphabet has a process to identify salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its business relationships. However, the company does not disclose the human rights risks it has identified, nor does it disclose a process to assess these risks. Alphabet discloses some general efforts to address human rights issues. However, as it does not disclose the specific human rights risks it has identified, it is unclear if the company is taking action to address its own salient human rights risks. The company has a grievance mechanism for workers to raise human rights complaints, but it is unclear if this mechanism is accessible to external stakeholders.
Alphabet publicly commits to respecting worker health and safety, and it places health and safety expectations on its business relationships and monitors their performance. However, the company is not explicit in stating that it does not require workers to work more than regular and overtime hours, nor does it specify that overtime work should be consensual and paid at a premium. In relation to workforce diversity, Alphabet provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by gender. However, it does not disclose employee breakdowns for other indicators of diversity, such as age group, per employee category.
Alphabet has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption and takes steps to identify and address bribery and corruption risks and impacts. However, the company does not disclose a global tax strategy, nor does it disclose its income tax payments for individual tax jurisdictions. Furthermore, Alphabet does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, it has no publicly available statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.