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Vaccines and our return-to-office plans

Sundar sent the following email to Google employees earlier this morning. The email has been edited to remove internal links. Hi everyone,I hope you are all taking good care. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve put the wellbeing of our Google community front and center. We’ve done this while also taking care of our customers…

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Sundar sent the following email to Google employees earlier this morning. The email has been edited to remove internal links. 

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all taking good care. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve put the wellbeing of our Google community front and center. We’ve done this while also taking care of our customers and partners, launching over 200 new products and features to help people and businesses navigate this difficult time. 

In March of 2020, we made the early decision to send employees home to slow down the spread of COVID. Since then, we’ve extended our Carer’s Leave coverage to help employees care for loved ones. We’ve continued to cover the full wages of on campus workers who couldn’t perform their jobs because of office closures. And, we’ve made sure that Googlers and our extended workforce have access to vaccines as soon as they are available locally. Additionally, thanks to the generosity of Googlers and support from Google.org, we’ve helped Gavi to fully vaccinate over 1 million people in low-and middle-income countries globally. 

Even as the virus continues to surge in many parts of the world, it’s encouraging to see very high vaccination rates for our Google community in areas where vaccines are widely available. This is a big reason why we felt comfortable opening some of our offices to employees who wanted to return early. And I have to say it’s been great to see Googlers brainstorming around whiteboards and enjoying meals in cafes again in the many offices that have already re-opened globally. 

Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead. As we look toward a global return to our offices, I wanted to share two key updates:

  • First, anyone coming to work on our campuses will need to be vaccinated. We’re rolling this policy out in the U.S. in the coming weeks and will expand to other regions in the coming months. The implementation will vary according to local conditions and regulations, and will not apply until vaccines are widely available in your area. You’ll get guidance from your local leads about how this will affect you, and we’ll also share more details on an exceptions process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other protected reasons.

  • Second, we are extending our global voluntary work-from-home policy through October 18. We are excited that we’ve started to re-open our campuses and encourage Googlers who feel safe coming to sites that have already opened to continue doing so. At the same time, we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office. This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it. We’ll continue watching the data carefully and let you know at least 30 days in advance before transitioning into our full return to office plans. For those of you with special circumstances, we will soon be sharing expanded temporary work options that will allow you to apply to work from home through the end of 2021. We’re also extending Expanded Carer’s Leave through the end of the year for parents and caregivers.

I know that many of you continue to deal with very challenging circumstances related to the pandemic. While there is much that remains outside of our control, I’m proud of the way we continue to take care of each other while helping people, businesses and communities through these difficult times.  

I hope these steps will give everyone greater peace of mind as offices reopen. Seeing Googlers together in the offices these past few weeks filled me with optimism, and I’m looking forward to brighter days ahead. 

-Sundar

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Survey shows how people decide what to trust online

Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has trained hundreds of journalists from around the world in verification and digital investigative tools. We caught up with Alex to find out about a recent information literacy survey his organization…

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Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has trained hundreds of journalists from around the world in verification and digital investigative tools. We caught up with Alex to find out about a recent information literacy survey his organization conducted in partnership with YouGov, with support from Google. Learn more about how Google is working on information literacy and helping you spot misinformation online.

Why was this survey conducted?

Misinformation isn’t a new problem, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially on the internet. We wanted to learn more about how people across generational lines verify information and decide what to trust and share online. And we knew this research would help us expand on the educational resources MediaWise has to offer.

What were the parameters for the survey?

We surveyed more than 8,500 respondents of various ages in the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Nigeria, India and Japan. We asked a wide range of questions aimed at assessing information literacy skills and verification habits. Those include queries about everything from the tools and techniques someone uses to investigate a post they see online, to the reasons why they may have shared misleading information in the past.

What are some of the biggest takeaways?

The survey found that 62% of respondents think they see false or misleading information on at least a weekly basis – that’s a staggering number. And people are aware that it’s a serious issue. Roughly 50% of all Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z respondents (these are people ages 18 to 57) said they’re concerned about their family being exposed to it.

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New ways we’re helping you find high-quality information

AI models are also helping our systems understand when a featured snippet might not be the most helpful way to present information. This is particularly helpful for questions where there is no answer: for example, a recent search for “when did snoopy assassinate Abraham Lincoln” provided a snippet highlighting an accurate date and information about…

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AI models are also helping our systems understand when a featured snippet might not be the most helpful way to present information. This is particularly helpful for questions where there is no answer: for example, a recent search for “when did snoopy assassinate Abraham Lincoln” provided a snippet highlighting an accurate date and information about Lincoln’s assassination, but this clearly isn’t the most helpful way to display this result.

We’ve trained our systems to get better at detecting these sorts of false premises, which are not very common, but are cases where it’s not helpful to show a featured snippet. We’ve reduced the triggering of featured snippets in these cases by 40% with this update.

Information literacy

Beyond designing our systems to return high-quality information, we also build information literacy features in Google Search that help people evaluate information, whether they found it on social media or in conversations with family or friends. In fact, in a study this year, researchers found that people regularly use Google as a tool to validate information encountered on other platforms. We’ve invested in building a growing range of information literacy features — including Fact Check Explorer, Reverse image search, and About this result — and today, we’re announcing several updates to make these features even more helpful.

Expanding About this result to more places

About this result helps you see more context about any Search result before you ever visit a web page, just by tapping the three dots next to the result. Since launching last year, people have used About this result more than 2.4 billion times, and we’re bringing it to even more people and places – with eight more languages including Portuguese (PT), French (FR), Italian (IT), German (DE), Dutch (NL), Spanish (ES), Japanese (JP) and Indonesian (ID), coming later this year.

This week, we’re adding more context to About this result, such as how widely a source is circulated, online reviews about a source or company, whether a company is owned by another entity, or even when our systems can’t find much info about a source – all pieces of information that can provide important context.

And we’ve now launched About this page in the Google app, so you can get helpful context about websites as you’re browsing the web. Just swipe up from the navigation bar on any page to get more information about the source – helping you explore with confidence, no matter where you are online.

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Finding community and customers through Growth Academy: Women Founders

With thousands of highly-valued tech companies, a global-first market approach, and a strong economy dominated by entrepreneurship, it’s clear why Israel’s nickname is ‘The Startup Nation.’However, this thriving startup ecosystem isn’t equally supportive of all aspiring founders. According to the latest Israeli Tech Gender Distribution Report, spearheaded by Google for Startups and IVC Data and…

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With thousands of highly-valued tech companies, a global-first market approach, and a strong economy dominated by entrepreneurship, it’s clear why Israel’s nickname is ‘The Startup Nation.’

However, this thriving startup ecosystem isn’t equally supportive of all aspiring founders. According to the latest Israeli Tech Gender Distribution Report, spearheaded by Google for Startups and IVC Data and Insights, only 2% of startups with a woman founder raised above $50 million between 2018 and 2021. While the number of entirely women-led companies has doubled in the past decade, they still only comprise 6.3% of Israeli startups — and only 13.9% of startups had at least one woman co-founder in a mixed-gender founding team.

I fall into the latter category. My cofounder Gal Benbeniste and I met during college, where we bonded over how outdated the investment world is. What started with trying to figure out a simple way to automate became FinityX, a deep-tech startup that helps investors implement AI tools as part of their investment process to save time and resources, and improve quality.

While I have been humbled by FinityX’s rapid growth and recognition, as one of the very few women in the deep-tech space I’ve always wanted to be able to access the same capital, business networks, and mentorship readily available to my male cofounder.

So I was thrilled when Google for Startups launched a Growth Academy program tailored specifically for the needs of early-stage women founders. Based on the successful Startup Growth Lab curriculum, the program includes leadership workshops with Israeli VCs such as Entree Capital, Ibex and Viola, leadership sessions with top industry lecturers, and one-on-one Google product mentorship. “Ever since Google for Startups opened Campus Tel Aviv in 2012, diversity and inclusion has been an essential focus to our work,” said Marta Mozes, marketing manager of Google for Startups in Israel. “When we discovered this data about female founders in Israel, we knew we had to be part of the change.”

Meet the other Israeli entrepreneurs, representing industries from family vacation-planning to finance, who joined me at Google for Startups Growth Academy: Women Founders:

  • Miri Berger, Cofounder & CEO of 6Degrees
  • Kerri Kariti, Cofounder & CPO of Claritee
  • Vardit Legali, Cofounder & CEO of Clawdia
  • Ronny Schwartz Dgani, Cofounder & CMO of Expecting.ai
  • Inbal Glantser and Naama Yacobson, Cofounders of Homaze
  • Tamar Liberman, Tal Provizor Narkiss, and Lee Winfield, Cofounders of It’s July
  • Mika Kayt, Founder & CEO of Outgage
  • Danielle Shpigel and Yarden Kaufmann, Cofounders of Unika

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