[guest post by Dana]
This has been a very difficult time. I wanted to provide an update on the memo that was circulated over this past week.
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. 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.”
The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. 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.
I have been on work related travel in Africa and Europe the past couple of weeks and had just started my family vacation here this week. I have decided to return tomorrow as clearly there’s a lot more to discuss as a group—including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.
1. Google claims to strongly support the rights of employees to express themselves. And yet when one employee exercised those Google-given rights to express himself, he was fired.
2. How does the CEO know that the vast majority of employees disagree with Damore’s memo? Would they actually want to go on record agreeing and supporting Damore after seeing him be fired for exercising his Google-given rights?
3. It’s fair to debate what is in the memo per the CEO, and yet when Damore brought up what was fair to debate, he was fired.
4. It allegedly crossed the line by promoting harmful gender stereotypes, except that Damore simply suggested that innate differences between the sexes, to some degree, contribute to the low representation of women in tech, and then he provided options to work with that possibility to increase, or at least encourage a greater participation of women. He didn’t ridicule or threaten or harass anyone. This is what an intellectual challenge looks like.
5. James Damore, in exercising his Google-given rights to express himself, was directly attempting to “do his utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination”. He was attempting to open discussion, honestly and seemingly without fear of reprisal directly because of the words and assurances in Google’s own Code of Conduct.
6. In as much as some employees feel hurt and judged as a gender, it appeared that Damore was also feeling judged and possibly hurt for his non-leftist views and resistance to conforming to the prescribed political positions held by Google – even before he wrote the memo. Because his feelings of being judged were the result of the company’s political biases, and were in the minority, does that make them invalid?
7. While the CEO does not want employees to have to worry about opening their mouths, in retrospect, shouldn’t Damore have worried about opening his own mouth via a memo? Does that freedom from concern really extend to every employee and the positions and views they value and stand upon?
8. If employees holding minority views question whether they can really freely express their views (without fear of reprisal) because they already feel under threat, and they’ve just witnessed an employee holding similar minority views be fired for doing that very thing, why on earth would any concerned employees sharing similar views believe his claims?
The “author had a right 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,” AND YET WE JUST TOOK MAJOR ACTION AGAINST AN EMPLOYEE FOR EXERCISING THOSE RIGHTS WHEN HE EXPRESSED HIS VIEWS.