Google CEO cancels gender diversity meeting as the issue escalates

Laverne Mann
August 12, 2017

Pichai said in an email to staff that several Google employees became fearful for their safety and grew concerned about being outed for speaking up at the town hall.

The Times published another excerpt from Pichai's email where he asserted "our co-workers shouldn't have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they must prove that they are not like the memo states, being "agreeable" rather than 'assertive, ' showing a 'lower stress tolerance, ' or being 'neurotic'".

Google's CEO had originally planned to address some of these issues at an all-hands meeting Thursday, but he canceled the meeting at the last minute due to concerns about leaks and employees being threatened and harassed online. Earlier this week, company engineer James Damore was sacked after suggesting biological differences were partly responsible for gender disparities among employees at the tech giant. But Damore was subsequently embraced by conservative communities online such as Breitbart News, Reddit and alt-right Twitter, who have long dismissed Silicon Valley as a haven of politically correct liberal group-think.

Google itself did not support Damore's lengthy memo, with chief executive Sundar Pichai saying it violated Google's Code of Conduct and contributed to the advancing of gender stereotypes, though he stopped short of saying whether Google would dismiss Damore. Pichai was named CEO in 2015. Soon after the who matter went viral, Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks came out in favor of James and even offered him and other Google engineers a job at Wikileaks. The abrupt cancellation is unusual for Google, which prides itself on being transparent with employees, but has generally been able to keep internal divisions within its walls. Google had then slammed the memo and fired Damore. Indeed, to build effective teams, companies must embrace a variety of different views, including from those who acutely feel the loss of privilege as the culture and composition of a company changes. The protest's organizers say they are reaching out to Damore to speak. "We will thus be Marching on Google!". Some of the Google employees also identified as gay or supportive of diversity efforts.

It prompted Google CEO Sunder Pichai to fire the engineer who wrote the 10-page memo, which claimed that "the representation gap between men and women in software engineering persists because of biological differences between the two sexes".

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There were a number of defining moments throughout this tense week at Google.

The memo's author claims to value diversity and inclusion. That's when we need good leaders most.

Mr. Damore's memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber", and his subsequent dismissal have exposed divisions within the company.

"I thought about how tragic it was that this unfounded bias was now being exposed to a new generation", she said.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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