Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber has been making a splash with yet another political brouhaha. I read the Google memo (not to be confused with the neutered Gizmodo edition that removed charts and citations) and found it thoughtfully written, organized, and well substantiated. After news of #jamesdamore being found and fired from Google began to circulate I couldn’t help but recall the first time I meandered through George Orwell’s 1984.
How did we get here?
How did we get to the point where people no longer deal with the substance of an argument, but opt for slinging slurs and political pandering? I am still waiting for an article that deals with the Google memo’s actual arguments. James Damore was kind enough to link to studies and concepts employed by psychological and the social sciences in his article. The befuddled media seems to have only read the neutered memo or they are operating out of such rage their vision can’t seem to locate the blue links. <– Apparently this is true!
Why does this matter? Because facts matter when we are making decisions and attempting to bring about lasting change for good in our world. The firing of James Damore only serves to prove at least one point, Google’s echo chamber is so loud they can’t hear a rational argument. So what does Google do? They trot out the newly employed Danielle Brown, Vice President of Diversity, Integrity, Governance, and Orwellian Studies (see satire) to squash the memo without dealing with or dialoging through the actual memo!
Google’s Response (with translation notes)
I’m Danielle, Google’s brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance (and Orwellian Sciences). I started just a couple of weeks ago, and I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate we’ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words.
Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization (RIP #jamesdamore), expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things (like science) at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect (tell me why, as in, use a scientific argument, as in, don’t just say “incorrect” and make me swallow it like a political horse pill) assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages. (I’ll link to it! Here ya go)
Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate (As long as you believe exactly like me and behave like I tell you to). We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, “Building an open, inclusive environment (with worldview clones of ourselves) is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ‘Nuff said.'”
Google has taken a strong stand on this issue, by releasing its demographic data and creating a company wide OKR on diversity and inclusion. Strong stands elicit strong reactions. Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable (and sometimes wrong– see biological differences between the sexes). But I firmly believe Google is doing the right thing, and that’s why I took this job (and relieved James Damore from his).
Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions (on their way out the door). But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.
I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and I can tell you that I’ve never worked at a company that has so many platforms for employees to express (lane) themselves (toward termination)—TGIF, Memegen, internal G+, thousands of (KGB monitored) discussion groups. I know this conversation doesn’t end with my email today. I look forward to continuing to hear your thoughts (as long as they echo my own) as I settle in and meet with Googlers across the company.
p.s. Does it worry anyone else that the largest internet/tech company in the world has entered into social policing?