Google CEO After Firing Engineer: ‘People Must Be Free To Express Dissent’

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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A day after Google fired an employee who wrote a lengthy memo blasting the company’s diversity policies, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote his own missive Tuesday saying that “people must feel free to express dissent.”

“First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it,” Pichai wrote. “However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

The seemingly contradicting statements and actions coincide with another memo from Google’s vice president of diversity, integrity and governance, who wrote that everyone must “feel safe sharing their opinion,” according to Motherboard.

James Damore, the engineer who wrote the 10-page memo to employees and was subsequently terminated, asserted that the tech giant’s diversity initiatives were wrong. The document, which Motherboard first reported and Gizmodo obtained, was circulated throughout Google, much to the offense of many people both within and outside of the company.

“People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us” Damore wrote. “Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document.”

Damore soon found out that his opinion wouldn’t be accepted with the open arms of his fellow employees, who instead met it with rebuke and backlash, perhaps a direct attestation to the title of the memo, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.”

It is possible Damore saw such a reaction coming, since he enumerates “Google’s biases” and alleges that “honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology.”

Nevertheless, despite any inklings he may have had, he carried on with his written lecture, admitting that “neither side is 100% correct,” and that both right and left-leaning “viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company.” Damore, who either completed or participated in a Ph.D program in Systems Biology at Harvard, addressed a number of contentious topics, especially those dealing with the differences between men and women like the supposed gender wage gap. He said that men have higher drive for status, among other claims, because such “is the primary metric that men are judged on.” Damore continued with his perception of the personality differences between men and women.

Overall, the primary points seemed to be that Google should not only foster an environment where ostensibly unpopular viewpoints are tolerated, even encouraged, but also that employment discrimination in the name of equal representation among genders is “unfair and divisive.”

Damore says rather than basing hiring on gender, which he argues is inherently sexist, Google should: “de-moralize diversity,” “stop alienating conservatives,” “confront Google’s biases,” “stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or race,” “have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs,” “focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity,” “de-emphasize empathy,” “prioritize intention,” “be open about the science of human nature,” and “reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.”

In the end, his opinion got him fired, corroborating his view that Google doesn’t allow for open debate despite what they claim — a right inherent to any private company.

Silicon Valley has been riddled with accusations of sexual harassment and general gender bias in recent months and years. (RELATED: Study: Ten Percent Of Women In Tech World Report ‘Unwanted Sexual Attention’)

A former female engineer at Uber wrote an incredibly creepy account of her manager’s sexual harassment and unfair treatment after reporting the alleged misconduct. The story caused a firestorm for the ride sharing service turned tech conglomerate, as more and more women employees came out in support of the female engineer.

Tesla fired a former female engineer after she accused the company of gender discrimination and sexual harassment and filed a lawsuit over the allegations. The tech conglomerate said the former employee was “given special treatment and opportunities for advancement that were unwarranted based on her qualifications, and that negatively impacted other more qualified employees.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation spoke with both the accuser’s attorney and Tesla. The attorney for the ex-Google engineer, who helped file the lawsuit, says she was paid disproportionately less than male equivalents, and her complaints of unequal treatment and sexual harassment were ignored.

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