A number of workers in Silicon Valley are planning to leave the tech hub due to a discomfort stemming from a uniform way of thinking in the industry and region, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The workers already are or plan on indirectly following the lead of Peter Thiel, a President Donald Trump-supporting venture capitalist. The billionaire entrepreneur recently announced he is leaving Silicon Valley for the slightly less liberal Los Angeles area to escape an allegedly pervasive discrimination against conservatives and some libertarians.
Citing a number of influential investors, and a couple of tech workers and startup entrepreneurs, the WSJ reports Thiel’s geographic “defection” is emblematic of an apparently larger trend.
“I think the politics of San Francisco have gotten a little bit crazy,” Tom McInerney, an angel investor who now resides in L.A., told TheWSJ. “The Trump election was super polarizing and it definitely illustrated—and Peter [Thiel] said this—how out of touch Silicon Valley was.”
A large majority of conservatives said they are in some way uneasy in the area due to their political and personal beliefs, according to a study published earlier in the month by the Lincoln Network. Roughly 89 percent and 74 percent of people who identified as “very conservative” or “conservative,” respectively, said they are hesitant of being themselves while working in Silicon Valley. Additionally, more than two-thirds of libertarians, which were the largest portion of respondents in the survey, said the same.
Only 30 percent and 36 percent of Silicon Valley employees who identify as “very liberal” or “liberal” are reluctant to be their true selves, according to the study.
Such an underlying mindset and a potential exodus from non-liberals comes after months and months of claims from the right end of the political spectrum (and libertarians) that Silicon Valley as a whole, as well as the leadership of major firms, are hostile to their line of thinking, or have let a similar workplace environment fester.
That growing mindset seemed to culminate when a Google engineer named James Damore was fired for internally expressing his views on forced diversity initiatives at the company. Rather than basing hiring on ethnicity or gender, Damore argued among other points that the company and competitors in the industry should factor in diversity of thought.
Damore’s termination started a media firestorm in which the majority of the public either responded with support for Damore, claiming he had a great display of intellectual courage, or opposition to his purported offensiveness. (RELATED: Google Board Donates More To Democrats Than Republicans)
Following the publication of Damore’s 10-page memo, which detailed suggestions and critiques of the company, and then his subsequent firing, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote his own missive, arguing that employees “must feel free to express dissent.”
Indirectly trying to refute that statement, Damore said it “really feels like they betrayed me” because he felt he wasn’t free to express dissent and only wanted to start a constructive conversation. (RELATED: Fired Ex-Google Engineer Announces Lawsuit Against His Former Company)
“The whole point of my memo was actually to improve Google and Google’s culture,” Damore said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “They just punished me and shamed me for doing it.”
Conservatives and the ilk, ironically, often complain that their ideological counterparts are wary of fruitful debate. They also complain their counterparts are averse to engaging in conversations to try to reconcile any deep-seated disagreements.
For now it seems that conservatives in Silicon Valley are themselves averse to advocating for their personal ideals in the region. It’s likely either that or due to exhaustion from a divisive political and cultural climate in the area.
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