Google’s former Head of International Relations, who left the tech giant last year, blasted the company’s diversity initiatives in a recent blog post. He described one diversity training that split employees into groups like “brown people” and “homos” and encouraged the participants to yell stereotypes at each other, such as “Promiscuous! Love to party!”
The Hill reports that former Google Head of International Relations Ross LaJeunesse published a blog post on Thursday in which he heavily criticized the company’s diversity initiatives. LaJeunesse launched a bid for Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) after Google allegedly pushed him out of his role last year, now LaJeunesse is publicly taking the company to task claiming that the firm mistreated minority employees during his decade-long employment at the firm.
In an op-ed posted to Medium.com, LaJeunesse states: “The company’s motto used to be “Don’t be evil.” Things have changed.” He goes on to claim that he was fired from Google after he pushed a human rights framework within the company over the course of many years. Google has denied this with a spokesperson stating that LaJeunesse’s former job was “eliminated as part of the broad reorganization of our policy team.”
LaJeunesse told the Hill in a statement: “There was no other way of explaining what had happened to me, other than my consistent advocacy for human rights.” LaJeunesse claims that he was removed from Google’s Diversity and Inclusion Council after he expressed concerns over a “diversity” exercise that made him and two women of color uncomfortable.
The exercise split employees into groups according to their identities, including “brown people,” “homos,” and “Asians.” LaJeunesse, who is homosexual, said that he spoke out against the exercise as it devolved into employees shouting pejorative statements about gay people in the “homos” group. The exercise required that employees “come up with a list of stereotypes and shout them out into the room, resulting in a group of people shouting, “Promiscuous! Love to party!”
LaJeunesse stated: “I’m probably the most senior person in the room and I stopped it.” He states that he warned the group: “This has gone off the rails, these are stereotypes only.” LaJeunesse stated that he later spoke to a South Asian woman who was so upset by the exercise that she began to cry, telling him that she wasn’t sure which group she would be welcomed into, and discovered during the exercise that she was not welcome in the “brown people” group.
Another woman who is Hispanic and is also homosexual reportedly told LaJeunesse: “I thought this was Google and you guys knew how to do this stuff. That was fucked up.” LaJeunesse stated that he pressured the HR department to hold a follow-up meeting on the event and learn from the mistakes made, but no further group meetings were organized. Months later, LaJeunesse discovered that he had been removed from Google’s diversity and inclusion council when he received a bonus note which stated: “Thanks for your service on the diversity and inclusion council.”
A Google spokesperson did not deny LaJeunesse’s version of events but instead claimed that the company “rigorously” investigates all allegations of misconduct and discrimination. The spokesperson stated:
Discussions that make anyone feel like they don’t belong have no place at Google and we absolutely want to hear about and address any concerns. All instances of inappropriate conduct reported to us are investigated rigorously, and over the past year we have simplified how employees can raise concerns and provided more transparency into the investigations process.
Read LaJeunesse’s full version of events at his Medium blog post here.