Google just fired the “anti-diversity” memo author

Chris Davies - Aug 8, 2017, 7:13 am CDT
Google just fired the “anti-diversity” memo author

Google has fired the author of the controversial internal memo on diversity, after facing huge criticism after the document, citing “politically correct monoculture” at the company, was leaked. Across ten pages, the document – which was shared on one of Google‘s internal messageboards, as its author apparently sought feedback on his opinions – accused the search giant of extreme liberal bias, and in turn creating an environment where conservative voices felt unable to speak out. However, it was its stance on women in engineering which caused the greatest outcry.

Rather than attempting to encourage more women into programming, the document argued, Google would do better to recognize what the author believes are biological differences between men and women. Those differences, he suggested, explain why fewer women end up both in technology roles and in management roles in general. Many inside Google voice their disagreement, though others have apparently said they agree – at least in some part – with the text.

Now, the engineer himself has confirmed that he has been fired, Bloomberg reports. The justification for the decision, he said, was that he had been “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” An internal memo circulated to Google employees by CEO Sundar Pichai appears to corroborate that claim, with the chief exec saying that the document had been found to “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

It’s a move that’s unlikely to pacify the storm that has built over the past few days. Google is currently at the center of a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor, which alleges that the company has been systematically discriminating against women. Notably, Google has refused to hand over full salary information to the government to prove its claim that it has closed the pay gap between male and female employees.

Still, its public statistics do show that, even with recent outreach efforts, Google still skews male in its engineering teams. 70-percent of Google staff are men, and the number is even higher for technical staff specifically, where four in five employees are male.

Google now faces allegations that, just as the engineer warned, it attempts to silence dissent. It’s unclear whether a lawsuit will arise out of this interpretation of the Code of Conduct, and in his memo, Pichai highlighted that his firing was not down to expressing views, but because those views were against the Code.

“However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.” Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

“The author had a right to express their views on those topics,” Pichai continued, “we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.” The CEO said that there would be a leadership team meeting on Thursday to further explore what needs to happen next.

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