Google fires employee who wrote anti-diversity memo

Google has fired a senior software engineer for authoring a 10-page screed condemning the company’s diversity efforts and claiming men are biologically more predisposed to working in the tech industry than women, Bloomberg reports. The engineer, James Damore, confirmed his firing in an email to Bloomberg, saying he was terminated for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Damore’s so-called “manifesto,” which went viral internally at Google this past weekend, was first reported by Motherboard, leading to Gizmodo’s publishing of the full text of the document. From there, intense debate ensued surrounding Damore’s viewpoints and the extent to which they undermined Google’s and other tech companies’ continued efforts to increase the representation of women in tech.

The crux of Damore’s argument was that biological differences between men and women are the cause of the gender gap at Google and the broader tech industry. He also said that efforts to remedy the gap are drowning out “ideological diversity” and creating a culture that discriminates against conservative viewpoints.

Google’s initial response to the document was tempered. Danielle Brown, the company’s recently appointed vice president of diversity, said in her initial statement that Damore’s views are not ones “that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.” However, Brown made a point to say that Google is tolerant of opposing viewpoints. “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,” she wrote. It was unclear at the time what, if any, action Google planned to take on the matter.

Despite Brown’s statement, backlash against Damore began to grow on Monday, especially once his name began circulating on Twitter. (Both Google and the journalists behind earlier reports on the screed originally declined to name Damore, citing his personal safety. His name was reportedly attached to the document, making his identity internally clear.)

The mounting backlash prompted Google CEO Sundar Pichai to send a company-wide email titled, “Our words matter.” The email, the existence of which was reported earlier today by Recode, definitively stated that Damore had violated the company’s code of conduct, crossing “the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” Pichai wrote. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”

While Pichai’s email did not conclusively say Damore was fired, the engineer’s confirmation to Bloomberg makes clear that Google deemed his violation of the code of conduct — and the unwanted attention it generated — serious enough to warrant termination. The act will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire, as conservative factions on the internet have already sprung up in Damore’s defense, hailing him as a hero for calling out political correctness and speaking out against diversity in the tech industry.

Comments

Okay, let’s just get these out of the way before I have to hear them for the 100th time.
It’s censorship
No, it’s not: this person is absolutely free to keep expounding his views. Just as a private company is absolutely free to not associate with him.
Google is part of the problem
No, they’re a private company with no overriding need nor mandate to aid in the public good. Beyond their shareholders, they don’t owe you a damn. You have governments, not companies, if you want real and meaningful equality

Companies like equality and diversity because it improves the work force and avoids liability. Also it makes your employees not hate their job.

If that were the case, then you’d see a much higher diversity rate than there is. Look at the diversity statistics & female CEO statistics. Until either government pressures companies for inclusion through regulation, or this milk toast of a generation decides that actual on the ground protest works better than lazy twitter ones, they don’t have any overriding need to change

Yeah, actual on the ground protests where people are being beaten and sprayed with tear gas. I totally can’t tell why more young people aren’t protesting.

We’re too lazy and weak too, that’s millennials for u..we’re grinding away at change against old white guys but why are we not jumping head first into speeding bullets?

I’d like to add, if u read the manifesto he sounds stupid.

Also I’d point out, conservatism as we know it can’t work. Conservatives themselves laid america for its progressive nature vs the rest of the world yet they hate progressive politics, which are needed because the only true answer for humanity is progress, u can’t stop it ever.

Also conservatism is the same bullshit that birthed Trump. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, opinion, it’s simply dumb. Now if it’s in the matter of money, global policies, etc..then ok good we need conservatism and the such in those.

Maybe you shouldn’t say that other people sound stupid when you can’t bother to write the word "you", misuse "too" and write terrible run-on sentences.

I constantly say that I hate the hypocrisy of Republicans, but it seems like you don’t understand the difference between social and financial conservatism.

I’m not sure what you’re going on about, but it should not be acceptable for police to attack protesters.

Yea the "jump headfirst into speeding bullets" line threw me off.

Incorrect. Companies like to trumpet about things like diversity because virtue signalling is a much cheaper and finely targeted form of marketing than traditional channels.

They do indeed have a need to aid in the public good. Google has an unprecedented power to influence the world wide conversation, more so than any government in history. While they don’t have arrest power, they could easily destroy lives through the intentional or unintentional abuse of their services. We should be watching everything they do, including as an employer, to keep them honest.
I don’t, by the way, have any problem with their lawful right to fire this guy.

Governments are created to support a social contract, companies are created to support a profit motive. You can talk about influence all you want, but companies aren’t created in the public interest nor the venue for social change.

Why do you see companies cut checks for millions for scholarship or community work projects? Because even though they are spending money they’re also fostering a brand image in their local community that pays itself back.

Big formatting problem here. When you read in diagonal, which is really likely given the format (especially) on mobile : you only get : this is censorship, Google is the problem.
If you use bold in a paragraph there is a chance that it’s going to be the only thing actually read.

So next time use italic or even underlined for your titles, and regular for the text. (Note that it would be fine to just remove the bold and have your text in italic and the emphasis in regular shape)

It’s a chilling effect, the same way distributing voter information is a chilling effect. It’s sending a very clear message, if you share any view at all with this person and you work in our industry, we will remove you. You aren’t allowed to have that opinion in this industry, and your livelihood is at stake if you do. It’s disgusting.

Just to note, I’m against both of those things. I don’t think posting voter information is right, nor do I think firing someone because they hold a different viewpoint is right. It’s what extremists do and it’s disturbing to see so many people cave to this.

I agree with what you’ve posted throughout this piece.

Saying that, I would have probably fired him for potentially stirring up unnecessary drama at work. By all means let him say what he feels in a personal capacity, just don’t bring my company name into it.

His arguments, while not unworthy of debate, were presented in a hamfisted manner to a knowingly hostile audience. That said, Google walked right into the trap and essentially validated his arguments for him, which I suspect he anticipated and it will probably cost them.

It’s sending a very clear message, if you share any view at all with this person and you work in our industry, we will remove you.

There was a small minority of Googlers who agreed with his manifesto. Have they been fired too?

No, probably because they weren’t bold enough to post a manifesto that created tension at work. I doubt they get fired for agreeing.

Bold, or stupid. Companies work hard for their culture. People often get fired for not fitting into it. If you dislike the culture, you won’t be long for that company. You’ll be happier at one with a culture that you take pride in.

Honestly it was both.

Bold, or stupid. Companies work hard for their culture. People often get fired for not fitting into it. If you dislike the culture, you won’t be long for that company. You’ll be happier at one with a culture that you take pride in.

Yes it is censorship. To even deny it is… falling in a vicious circle. And yes, a company is free not to associate with him like any publisher is free not to associate with the particular view of a writer/journalist. Just modernity. In the past, sure all individuals had to internalize the political view of their company, now we (educated humans) expect something else.

No, Google is not free of our opinion. To think that companies can do whatever they want (because they are not governments) is just ignoring free market.

Even if you don’t agree with him, it’s pretty clear that he wasn’t harassing anyone. Right or wrong, good or bad, it doesn’t matter which side you’re on. He was stating his opinion and got fired because of that.
He lost his job over his opinion. That sucks.

Saying one gender is genetically more suited to do the job at google was an opinion that would get him fired. He agreed to the code of conduct and then decided to promote that opinion in the work place. Hence he was fired. It specifically violated the code of conduct.

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