It’s Monday, so it’s time for another diversity kerfuffle. This time, Gizmodo acquired a long, thoughtful piece on Google’s diversity policies. Here’s the TL;DR (“too long, didn’t read” — if you’re not familiar with the term, that’s an “executive summary” in the Geek.)
- Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
- This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
- The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
- Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
- Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
- Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.
The whole memo is worth reading, although Gizmodo edited out all the links to sources and charts. Overall, it’s pretty calm, well-reasoned, and makes some interesting points that might just actually be correct. But let’s look at the reaction:
Exclusive: Here’s The Full 10-Page Anti-Diversity Screed Circulating Internally at Google [Updated] (That’s Gizmodo.com. Notice the unbiased headline.)
And then there’s the response from Danielle Brown, Google’s new VP of diversity, integrity, and governance.
Affirming our commitment to diversity and inclusion—and healthy debate
Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.
Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, “Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ‘Nuff said.”
Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.
That’s reasonably mild-mannered, but some of the other reactions have been less so:
James Damore is the Google engineer who wrote the meritocracy/accept diversity of ideas memo. He's being strung up. pic.twitter.com/1rVsW3Jddm
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 7, 2017
So, the author should be fired and blackballed.
According to others, he should be beaten. (I’m linking Breitbart, not my favorite site, but a lot of these people have now blocked or protected their accounts.)
I can’t imagine why he felt that “Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology.”
Now, I wrote about my own experiences following the Brendan Eich debacle — Netscape was very interested in me and then, suddenly, was not. I’ve had the same experience several times now, and I’ve been effectively unemployed (except for writing) for nine months, the longest time ever (and if anyone needs Python or Java programming, or DevOps with Ansible, especially if it can be done remotely, or technical writing, let me know).
Is it because I’m a visible conservative? Who knows. But you just have to look at the reaction to this memo to see that his worry that people are being silenced by a dominant ideology is well-founded.
Scoop on terminal with @mhbergen : Google memo author says he has been fired.
— Ellen Huet (@ellenhuet) August 8, 2017