Google fires employee who authored controversial diversity memo
Google has reportedly fired the author of an internal memo criticizing the company’s diversity program, prompting conservative commentators to say the author’s criticisms about liberal intolerance stand thus proven.
James Damore, the author of a 10-page memo titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” told Bloomberg News of his firing in an email Monday evening.
According to Bloomberg, Mr. Damore, a software engineer, said he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”
Although the company had no immediate comment, Google’s Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai implied similarly earlier in the day, sending a note to employees saying the memo “violate[s] our Code of Conduct and cross[es] the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes.”
Danielle Brown, whom Google recently added as a diversity chief, also condemned the memo Monday, saying the company is “unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success.”
The memo, which was released over the weekend and spread like wildfire on social media said the shortage of female employees and a pay gap at Google — which the memo acknowledged as problems — was not wholly the result of sexist discrimination.
The memo began by saying that only honest discussion will address these gaps, going on to say that women as a group tend to “prefer jobs in social and artistic areas,” while more men “may like coding because it requires systemizing.”
The memo said the reasons for the gaps also involved women’s free choices, including what subjects to major in, and biological differences between the sexes. It also said the company silenced conservatives.
According to Bloomberg, citing the company’s internal discussion boards, “multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him.”
Reaction on social media was swift, with conservatives saying the firing proves the memo’s point — that Google is a company that requires workers to toe an ideological line.
“The online mob strikes again. People really don’t realize how much harm they are doing to the ability to have open dialogue in our society,” wrote “AG Conservative” on Twitter.
Added Last Word William: “Sweet, wrongful firing lawsuit coming up, something big enough that it might set up a precedent.”
Commentary magazine editor John Podhoretz harkened back to a Google corporate code of conduct. “Remember when its motto was ‘Don’t be evil’? It’s evil. Totalitarian evil,” he said.
Brande Stellings, senior vice president of advisory services for Catalyst, a nonprofit advocacy group for women in the workplace, said the memo shows “how ingrained, entrenched and harmful gender-based stereotypes truly are.”
“It’s much easier for some to point to ‘innate biological differences’ than to confront the unconscious biases and obstacles that get in the way of a level playing field,” Ms. Stellings told The Associated Press in an email.
At Google, 56 percent of its workers are white, 35 percent are Asian, 4 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black, according to its latest diversity report.