James Damore, the Google employee who wrote a controversial internal document about diversity initiatives at the internet giant, said late on Monday that he has been fired for violating the company’s code of conduct.
Damore told Bloomberg in an email that he had been fired, just moments after Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the employee had violated its Code of Conduct by “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
In a memo sent to employees on late Monday, Pichai said “much of what was in that memo is fair to debate,” even if most employees disagree with it, but he added that “portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
Pichai said employees should feel free to express dissent, as long as doing so is in compliance with the company’s code of conduct.
“The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender,” he said. “Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states.”
Pichai said he would cancel his family vacation and return to work to discuss how to create a “more inclusive environment” for all.
In the original memo, Damore emphasized that he values diversity and inclusion and added that he does not deny that sexism exists, but he called for an “honest discussion” about looking at population level differences in distributions.
Damore argued that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes, and that those differences may explain the lack of equal representation of women in tech and leadership.
The employee criticized the company for using discriminatory practices to increase gender and racial diversity. He pointed to programs which are only provided for people with a certain gender or race and a hiring practice in which people are reconsidered if a set of people is not diverse enough.
“These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions,” he said. “We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology that can irreparably harm Google.”
Damore further argued that Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety.
“This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed,” he said. “The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.”
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