Saturday 21 October 2017

Google fires employee behind anti-diversity memo

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Mark Bergen

Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company's diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley.

James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for "perpetuating gender stereotypes". He said he's "exploring all possible legal remedies".

The imbroglio at Google is the latest in a long string of incidents concerning gender bias and diversity in the tech enclave. Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick lost his job in June amid scandals over sexual harassment, discrimination and an aggressive culture. Ellen Pao's gender-discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2015 also brought the issue to light, and more women are speaking up to say they've been sidelined in the male-dominated industry, especially in engineering roles.

Earlier on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo "violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace". But he didn't say if the company was taking action against the employee. A Google representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Mr Pichai's memo.

Mr Damore's 10-page memorandum accused Google of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions. It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furore that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand.

After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google's new vice-president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Mr Damore's views and reaffirmed the company's stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him.

"We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company," Brown said in the statement. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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