Yesterday we reported that a 10-page document penned by an unnamed Google engineer titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” which criticized the company’s “left-leaning”, “anti-conservative” culture and called for replacing Google’s diversity initiatives with policies that encourage “ideological diversity” instead, led to angry outrage among fellow Google employees and Silicon Valley liberals. The document, published in its entirety by Gizmodo, quickly went “viral” both inside the company and within the broader Silicon Valley community.
The document’s author also wrote that employees with conservative political beliefs are discriminated against at Google and lamented about how “leftist” ideology is harmful. It argued that the company should have a more “open” culture where its viewpoint would be welcomed. The document said that improving racial and gender diversity is less important than making sure conservatives feel comfortable expressing themselves at work.
And, as of moments ago, the author of the memo – whose name has since been revealed as James Damore – has been fired.
According to Bloomberg, “Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company’s diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley.”
James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” A Google representative didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees on Monday, first reported by ReCode, that said portions of the employee’s memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” He did not, however, say at the time if the company was taking action against the employee.
As we explained yesterday, Damore’s 10-page memo accused Google of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions.
It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand.
After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google’s new vice president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore’s views and reaffirmed the company’s stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News.
The memo and surrounding debate has come at an awkward time for Google which is currently fending off a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Labor alleging the company systemically discriminates against women. Google has denied the charges, arguing that it doesn’t have a gender gap in pay, but has declined to share full salary information with the government. According to the company’s most recent demographic report, 69 percent of its workforce and 80 percent of its technical staff are male.
And speaking of hypocrisy, in the same memo from CEO Pichai, we read the the following:
… let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it.
… So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo — such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all — are important topics. The author had a right to express their views on those topics — 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.
… there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent.
… and to be fired immediately after, especially if the “dissent” puts into question some of Google’s more fundamental ideological tenets, such as those highlighted by Wikileaks which last year revealed “Google’s “Strategic Plan” To Help Democrats Win The Election, Track Voters.”
As for the now former Senior Software Engineer and Harvard PhD, we are confident that a job at Palantir awaits with open arms.