Google fires employee over diversity memo

It emerged at the weekend that a controversial memo concerning diversity within Google was circulated internally around the internet giant.

The memo caused controversy, with a number of employees airing grievances with what was said by an unnamed software engineer. Google has not confirmed the author’s name, but the US media has said his name is James Damore.

Following the memo, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai said it broke the firm’s code of conduct on Monday in an email to employees. Pichai said the text crossed the line due to it “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace”.

>See also: The business of diversity: how a diverse workforce makes money

One of the main issues taken from the memo was that it suggested there were fewer women at Google due to biological differences.

The memo was entitled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, and it argued that “the abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership”.

He continued: “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.” The author later said he had received many personal messages of gratitude after it was published.

>See also: Diversity in cyber security: how to close the gender gap

However, Pichai did say that some of the contents of the memo was fair to debate. He emphasised the importance of free speech and said that “much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it”.

But he added: “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”

“It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects ‘each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination’.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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