An activist and lawyer who tries to convince big companies to cultivate a culture of ideological diversity and stick to what’s best for investors confronted Google and parent company Alphabet during a shareholder meeting Wednesday.
“Silicon Valley elites often preen about their commitment to diversity and inclusion, but I don’t think many of you know what that means,” Justin Danhof, general counsel of the National Center for Public Policy Research and director of the Free Enterprise Project, wrote in a speech presented to the room of executives and fellow shareholders. “Diversity isn’t what someone looks like. It’s the sum of what they think, feel and believe. And at this company, thinking and believing in conservative policies appear to be verboten.”
His appeals for more varied viewpoints within companies have fallen on deaf ears many times before. But his latest entreaty comes as others in Silicon Valley like Facebook and Amazon have adopted an affirmative action plan sometimes known as the Rooney Rule, which mandates an interview with a woman and minority, rather than merely “appointing the best people for the job.”
“At last year’s shareholder meeting, I asked the company’s executives if conservative and libertarian opinions were welcome at Alphabet in light of the company’s numerous liberal public policy positions,” recalled Danhof. “Mr. [Eric] Schmidt [then head of Alphabet] told me that the company was not going to reconsider any of its positions because everyone in the company believed in the same things. That’s obviously not true.”
Danhof, of course, is referencing the fact that Google is made of thousands of employees, making it virtually impossible for such a large company to be made of precisely like-minded people. He alluded to former Google engineer James Damore, who was fired after outlining and publishing criticism of internal racial and gender diversity measures in a memo, in a conversation with The Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: Ex-Google Engineer Fired For Political Views Announces Lawsuit Against His Former Company)
And even if it was true that everyone believed in the same things at Google, that wouldn’t necessarily be a positive thing.
“Without conservatives and libertarians, there is groupthink, which is extremely dangerous since everyone will think the same exact thing and never question leadership,” Danhof told TheDCNF.
When asked about recent reports that claim there is a potentially pernicious internal backlash against Google’s business decisions and policies, he said it’s only for more liberal points of contention — the company’s once-pending partnership with the Pentagon for artificially intelligent drone technology and more ethnic and gender diversity.
“All that shows is that there are many people who are further left than the leadership and they are not afraid,” argued Danhof. “It shows you can be as liberal as you want at Google, and not fear punishment. You can be critical as long as you are critical as part of the left or far left.”
Danhof said in 2017, following his similar speech at the Google shareholder meeting, he was hit with a flood of emails from conservatives, libertarians and independents employed at Google, saying they feel so uncomfortable sharing any opinion, even if it’s not political.
“It sounded like these people were writing these emails from prison,” Danhof said to emphasize tone. (RELATED: Damore: I Can’t Get A Job Elsewhere Because Everyone’s Afraid Of Google [VIDEO])
Following Danhof’s most recent speech Wednesday, Google’s executive board member announced it is officially adopting the Rooney Rule for its Board just like its industry competitors.
“The civil rights movement of the past is the exact opposite of what it is today in which race and ethnicity were not supposed to matter,” said Danhof. “Now, there is a complete 180, where people are judged by their color of their skin.”
Google declined to comment on its newly announced initiative and Danhof’s speech.
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