Google canceled an all-hands, diversity-focused meeting Thursday due to safety concerns.
“Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall,” CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees, which was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward,” he added.
Pichai planned the forum in order to address, among other priorities, the recent firing of James Damore — an engineer who composed and published an internal memo about diversity at Google and his views on men and women in the workplace.
Damore suggested the company “stop alienating conservatives,” “confront Google’s biases,” “be open about the science of human nature,” “stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or race,” and “have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.”
Right-leaning commentators have posted some of the personal information of employees who publicly supported Google’s decision to fire Damore, reported The Wall Street Journal. Pichai noted those outings are concerning other employees.
“In recognition of Googlers’ concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion,” Pichai said in the email. “So in the coming days we will find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely.”
In his own memo sent out to employees Tuesday following the firing, Pichai said that “people must feel free to express dissent,” but that portions of Damore’s written lecture crossed the line “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
The whole ordeal has apparently caused a schism within the company, as 56 percent of 441 surveyed employees opposed their company’s decision to fire Damore, according to an informal poll. (RELATED: Google Higher-Ups Love Donating To Democrats, Not Republicans)
Damore said “it really feels like they betrayed me” in an interview with Bloomberg because “the whole point of my memo was actually to improve Google and Google’s culture.” Instead, “they just punished me and shamed me for doing it,” he said.
Damore alleged in his memo that any “honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology,” which within Google and Silicon Valley in general, is, ostensibly, primarily liberal. Although the sample size of the polled employees is small compared to the total amount of workers at Google, it speaks to an apparent split.
Pichai’s perception, however, doesn’t comport with the nonscientific poll. “The vast majority of you are very supportive of our decision. A smaller percentage of you wish we would do more,” he wrote in the email. “And some are worried that you cannot speak out at work freely. All of your voices and opinions matter … and I want to hear them.”
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