Google Fires Employee Who Wrote 10-Page Anti-Diversity Manifesto – Vanity Fair
Google has fired James Damore, the engineer who wrote and shared a 10-page internal memo criticizing the company’s efforts to increase diversity and decrying a “politically correct monoculture” that he blamed for a misguided effort to achieve proportional representation in the workplace. The memo, entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” has created an uproar in Silicon Valley after initially going “internally viral” at Google. In it, Damore argues that Google is silencing conservative viewpoints; that the representation gap that exists within the tech industry is because of biological differences between men and women; and that Google, which is currently under investigation by the Department of Labor for its own gender pay gap, should stop offering programs to minorities and women.
The backlash to the memo from Googlers, ex-Googlers, and others in the tech community was swift, even as it found supporters within conservative media. Google’s new V.P. of Diversity, Integrity & Governance Danielle Brown responded to the memo over the weekend in an internal memo to employees, in which Brown told Googlers open dialogue is key but only within the principles of equal employment. “We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” Brown wrote. “Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.” On Monday, Google C.E.O. Sundar Pichai responded with a memo of his own, calling Damore’s rhetoric “offensive” and indicating that parts of the document may have violated Google’s code of conduct. Damore confirmed to Bloomberg on Monday that he had been fired for writing the manifesto for “perpetuating gender stereotypes,” and said he is “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”
Video: Jana Rich’s Instructions For a More Diverse and Inclusive Company
The controversy has fueled a raging political debate over what is free speech and how far institutions should go to enforce anti-discrimination rules without infringing on rights themselves. Some vocal figures on the right were quick to express their disgust with Damore’s firing, decrying it as censorship and liberal groupthink. “Censorship is for losers,” Julian Assange tweeted, and said WikiLeaks would be offering Damore a job. Popular alt-right conspiracy theorist Michael Cernovich said that political affiliation should “be a protected class under anti-discrimination laws.” Eric Weinstein, the managing director at Peter Thiel’s Thiel Capital, tweeted: “Dear @Google, Stop teaching my girl that her path to financial freedom lies not in coding but in complaining to HR. Thx in advance, A dad.” (Recode co-founder Kara Swisher shot back: “Dear @EricRWeinstein, Stop teaching my boys that their path to decency lies not in coding but in denigrating women.”) Others upset with the firing have decided to boycott Google products, which, given their ubiquity, may be harder to do than they expected.
The furor over Damore’s screed comes amid a number of high-profile incidents involving diversity and gender bias that have roiled the famously liberal Silicon Valley. Two years ago, Ellen Pao lost a gender discrimination lawsuit against the venture-capital firm where she worked, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Uber C.E.O. Travis Kalanick resigned after a series of scandals at his company involving allegations of sexism and gender discrimination. Airbnb has begun to permanently delete user accounts of some of its far-right-wing users, who tried using the service to book places to stay during a highly publicized upcoming Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. And the venture-capital industry has been shaken by a series of sexual harassment complaints involving some of the Bay Area’s top investment firms.
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