Google Fires Employee For Expressing an Opinion; Shocked When Employees Don’t Feel Safe Speaking Up

After James Damore published his document “Damore published his document “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” on an internal message board, and that document was leaked to the press, the internet seemed to freak out. People took up sides and jumped to conclusions (often without reading what Damore had actually said). Google fired Damore.

Naturally, this didn’t calm the furor on the internet or at Google, and Google wanted to hold a town hall to address some of the concerns. However, Google CEO Sundar Pichai had to cancel the town hall due to Googlers concerns about “their safety and worried they may be “outed” publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”

To keep reading (including the full text of Pichai’s memo), click here: Google Fires Employee For Expressing an Opinion; Shocked When Employees Don’t Feel Safe Speaking Up

Related Posts

7 thoughts on “Google Fires Employee For Expressing an Opinion; Shocked When Employees Don’t Feel Safe Speaking Up

  1. You’re on the wrong side of this issue. Just because a minority of people agree with Damore’s “science” does not make it right. Hitler — and other eugenicists — also had some outlier “scientists” in their camp. There are some excellent fact-checking analyses of his memo publicly available, and the consensus is that his “science” was “junk science.” There is no definitive scientific evidence that women are — biologically hard-wired to be — more “agreeable,” “neurotic,” etc., than men, or that these alleged biological traits make them less suited for tech careers. Anyone making similar “biology is destiny” allegations against, say, African-Americans, Jews, etc. — and such were, in fact, made in the past — would have been summarily fired, and no one would even be questioning it.

    1. You don’t have to agree with Damore to be concerned at the aggressive reaction from Google. It’s a nuclear response to him honestly expressing his concerns. Suppressing such points of view rather than engaging with them won’t make them go away. Nor is it ideal to to have a society where “I don’t agree with you so you must be destroyed!” is an acceptable response.

      And if he’s even got one or two good points in the 10 pages of his “manifesto” (and I think he does), wouldn’t it be more productive to build bridges to these? The premise of Google’s strong reaction to his “manifesto” is that it made women at Google feel somehow unsafe or unvalued. Why not also build on the legitimate male feelings that he expresses that he (and other male employees) feel blamed that anything less than 50% female engineers at Google is the direct result of their biases and discriminatory behavior. Nobody likes to feel blamed, and the resentment engendered is unconstructive and undermines the overall effort. It is not pragmatic to ignore male feelings–yes, men have feelings, too–and Google should thank Damore for giving them an excuse to bring these into the open.

      1. For most of the tech companies that have diversity goals, their goal is not to have 50% of their engineers/STEM employees be women. It is for the diversity of the employees they have to reflect the diversity present in the “pipeline,” or pool of available candidates. For example, if 20% of the country’s software engineers are women, then they would likely have a goal to have at least 20% of their software engineers be women.

        Second, I feel it is perfectly reasonable, and I’d go so far as to say prudent, to fire an engineer for a demonstrated inability to comprehend statistics and make a coherent data-driven argument, especially at a company in a position to hire employees from among the best and brightest. If you write a memo/manifesto/whatever with data from outdated or dubious sources, and appear to ignore data that might support another conclusion, or even just make the critically flawed assumption that population averages can be applied to a cohort of specially-trained, elite individuals. It makes about as much sense as goggle telling employees that their salaries will be based on the fact that the median home price in the United States is $201,900 (the median home price in Mountain View, CA – the location of Google’s HQ – is about $1.6 million).

  2. I understand why Google fired him, but I don’t agree with their decision. I’m a woman with a science and law degree. I read his entire memorandum. He made some good points, and he made some stupid statements. Even I raised an eyebrow once or twice, but other times I found myself nodding and saying, “There’s a valid a point.” Unfortunately, he did shoot himself in the foot a couple of times. For example, “Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.” While it is true that more women than men, on average, suffer from anxiety (or at least, seek treatment for it, which is a key point), the science is all over the map about stress and gender. Take this article “ So, by making these sweeping and negative statements about women that (1) could have definitely been phrased better and (2) don’t entirely comport with science, he’s shot himself in the foot. If you’re going to draft a controversial memo that says women aren’t in tech because maybe fewer women prefer it, that’s okay. Realize that you don’t want to offend 50% of your coworkers by implying that, because of their gender, they are more prone to anxiety and less able to handle stress… (even acknowledging these are generalities and there are exceptions isn’t really going to cut the sting). And, in fact, he got his generalities wrong on that one by going too far. However, I agree that firing was the wrong tactic. Unfortunately, this didn’t become an issue until the media got a hold if it, causing a fire storm, and causing a bunch of ruckus at Google. One woman threatened to quit over the memo, which I saw as an overreaction and an unfortunate playing into the memo’s “stereotypes” of women.

  3. Did this guy have any power to hire or fire? I got the impression he’s just another engineer schmo. If he’s just expressing his opinion, who cares?

  4. Well, I read that he claimed to have a PhD from Harvard, when he really only had a masters. Hopefully, that is a valid firing offense. Maybe that is true difference between men and women in technology – men lie about their credentials.

  5. Wow! Such comments! One pulls Godwin’s law right away and another bashes men by calling them liars.

    No wonder folks are afraid of speaking up.

Comments are closed.

Are you looking for a new HR job? Or are you trying to hire a new HR person? Either way, hop on over to Evil HR Jobs, and you'll find what you're looking for.