According to internal correspondence, Alphabet Inc.’s Google plans to discontinue a long-running program aimed at entry-level engineers from underrepresented backgrounds because participants claimed it enforced “systemic pay inequities.”

Google confirmed that the Engineering Residency would be replaced by a new initiative, stating that it is “always evaluating programs to ensure they evolve and adapt over time to meet the needs of our employees.”

Google pledged last year to improve employee retention for underrepresented groups.

Critics have long claimed that Google and its peers in the tech industry favor white, Asian, and male employees in hiring, promotions, and pay. Since the Black Lives Matter protests a year ago, businesses have become more sensitive to concerns about workforce diversity.

Since 2014, the Google residency, also known as “Eng Res,” has given graduates from hundreds of schools the opportunity to work on different teams, receive training, and prove themselves for a permanent job over the course of a year. According to three former residents, it provided a peer group for bonding.

According to a June 2020 presentation and an accompanying letter to management signed by over 500 current and former residents, residents were Google’s “most diverse pool” of software engineers and came “primarily from underrepresented groups.”

Residents received the lowest possible pay for their employment level, a smaller year-end bonus, and no stock, resulting in a compensation deficit “in the mid tens of thousands of dollars,” according to the presentation.

According to the presentation, nearly all residents converted to regular employees. According to the report, many alumni have continued to feel the “negative effect” of their starting pay on their current salary years later. When it comes to hiring permanent residents, Google says it works hard to eliminate long-term disparities.

The letter came after Google made significant donations to promote racial justice in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd. The letter stated that black, Latinx, and female employees “deserve more than just ‘the opportunity to work at Google.'”

“While Google is willing to invest large sums of money in issues of racial inequity outside of the workplace, it still appears unwilling to address or even acknowledge the role that the Eng Res program plays in enforcing systemic pay inequities,” the report said.

On June 2, Vice President Maggie Johnson emailed alumni, informing them that Google would replace the residency with a new program called Early Career Immersion, which would begin in 2022. (ECI). The message did not explain why the switch was made, but it did state that ECI would include mentoring and training.

According to the company, the program will provide permanent employment. Concerns about being hired made the engineering residency feel “probationary,” according to the Google employees’ presentation.

Google said in a statement that the previous program attempted to provide “a wide range of high potential engineers” with the opportunity to “hone their skills and gain relevant experience as they begin their careers.” “Our Early Career Immersion onboarding program will offer a fresh perspective.”

Google continues to run other fixed-term residencies, including 26-month roles working on internal technical systems and an 18-month program for artificial intelligence researchers. The company said it had no updates on the other residencies.