Google fires employee who published anti-diversity memo [Update]

Google HQ logo on building

U.S. search giant Google has taken action against an employee who wrote a controversial memo condemning the company for its pro-diversity stance.

According to Bloomberg, James Damore — the Google employee who wrote the memo — confirmed Monday evening in an email that he had been let go for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Motherboard initially broke the story about the memo’s existence, and Gizmodo quickly acquired and subsequently published the full 10-page memorandum.

Damore’s memo was a comprehensive indictment of his views regarding Google’s efforts to encourage diversity in its workforce.

Damore wrote in favour of gender differences, outlining his beliefs on male and female biology, as well as his concerns about Google culture’s alleged lack of acknowledgement of right-wing, conservative beliefs.

“Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety,” reads an excerpt from Damore’s memo.

The memo widely circulated within Google, before leaking to the public.

In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees explaining that parts of Damore’s memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

Former Google employee Yonatan Zunger published a blog post criticizing Damore for “not [appearing] to understand gender” and “perhaps more interestingly…not [appearing] to understand engineering.

“Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers,” reads an excerpt from Zunger’s blog post.

Damore’s memo is the latest in a string of controversial Silicon Valley diversity scandals.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was removed from his position, in June 2017, after a flurry of sexual harassment scandals plagued the company.

Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao sued venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2012 on grounds of discrimination based on gender.

Google itself is currently under investigation by the U.S. department of labour for allegations that the company discriminates against female employees. The tech giant has denounced the allegations, stating that there is no difference in male and female employee salaries.

In response to Damore’s memo and subsequent firing, people like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have expressed support for the former Googler.

“Censorship is for losers,” said Assange, in a tweet. “[WikiLeaks] is offering a job to fired Google engineer James Damore.”

Source: Bloomberg

Update 08/08/2017: Added link to Sundar Pichai’s note to Google employees

Update 09/09/2017: According to an article from Business Insider, James Damore has filed a complaint with the U.S. National Labour Relations Board — the federal body responsible for “safe-guarding employee rights.”