Google fires em­ployee who au­thored con­tro­ver­sial di­ver­sity memo

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY VIC­TOR MOR­TON This ar­ti­cle was based in part on wire-ser­vice re­ports.

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.

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