Google CEO Sundar Pichai defended the dismissal of former Google employee James Damore in a blog post on Tuesday, where he called Damore’s manifesto “harmful.”
“First, 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,” Pichai opined in the blog post. “However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
“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,'” he continued.
Pichai then claimed that the manifesto “clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender,” and added, “Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being ‘agreeable’ rather than ‘assertive,’ showing a ‘lower stress tolerance,’ or being ‘neurotic.'”
At the same time, 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. 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.
The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree—while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct. I’d encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same.
After the manifesto had gone viral online, news outlets reported that some “upset” women at Google took the following day off.
A former Google software engineer says some women at the company skipped work today, upset by the leaked memo. https://t.co/Uuvd5CBKv7
— NPR (@NPR) August 8, 2017
This week, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Google’s YouTube, claimed she had faced discrimination in the tech industry for being a woman, and added that “implicit biases” still exist within.
Over 60 women, consisting of both former and current Google employees, are currently considering a lawsuit against the company, alleging gender pay differences and sexism.
It is also expected that Damore himself is preparing a lawsuit against Google over his dismissal.
“I’m sure a lawsuit will be forthcoming,” predicted Inc writer Suzanne Lucas following Damore’s firing, adding that it was in her opinion illegal in numerous ways for Google to fire the employee.
In a series of interviews this week, Damore explained his experiences attending “secret” Google diversity programs.
“A month and a half ago I went to one of our diversity summits, all of it unrecorded and super secret, and they told me a lot of things that I thought were just not right,” Damore revealed. “They were telling us about a lot of these potentially illegal practices that they’d been doing in order to increase diversity… Basically treating people differently based on their race or gender.”