Homepage / Technology / The crisis over a diversity memo is forcing Google to uphold its values while fostering debate
How the Supreme Court may have made Web shopping pricier for just about everyone but Amazon How to choose between an Amazon Echo, a Google Home and an Apple HomePod This floating robotic factory will build satellites and spaceships in orbit Meet the man whose job it is to reassure people that Google search isn’t evil Euro is here to stay: German finance minister China's ZTE expected to take last step to lift ban Cramer Remix: The best way to play the stress test results Red Hat CEO on earnings-led stock drop: 'I would encourage investors to look long term' Apple launches free repair program for MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards Tesla is suing an ex-employee for hacking into its 'MOS' software — here's what that system does Morgan Stanley sees 'a pattern forming' of the space industry developing like self-driving cars Buy Intel shares because its CEO change will not hurt the chipmaker: Credit Suisse Xiaomi reportedly awards founder $1.5 billion in stock ahead of IPO Tesla reports another fire at Fremont factory Tesla shares drop after analyst raises concern over a rise in its services costs Increased threat of a trade war is ramping up fears of a 'full-blown recession' CarMax shares surge to record high, on pace for their best day in 4 years If energy can clear one hard-to-break level, it’s off to the races, chart watcher says Warren Buffett: 'Any time the market takes a sharp dive,' read this book Supreme Court rules warrants required for cellphone location data Trump urges OPEC to 'keep prices down' as oil cartel's meeting wraps up Cramer: Strength in tech and retail has 'masked' weakness in the broader market Buy EA shares because it is ‘building a Netflix for video games’: Needham What’s at stake in Turkey’s elections, and why Erdogan could actually lose Facebook’s ‘lack of accountability’ in its data scandal spurs European sustainability fund to dump shares Goldman Sachs: GE should suspend dividend for the next 18 months OPEC ministers strike deal on oil production levels Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: BB, MDT, URI, JPM, BAC & more Pro tips on taking great video of your vacation — right from your phone All 35 times the market did this, stocks ended the year higher Bitcoin tumbles after Japan watchdog orders exchanges to beef up practices against money laundering Husband cheating? Ashley Madison says member signups spiked in these cities last year James Comey: Public anger about migrant children is ‘why Trump ran’ from the policy Chinese stocks are flirting with bear market territory as trade worries fester BlackBerry posts quarterly loss Friday will likely be the year's biggest stock market volume day with big action in Apple, JP Morgan Rival Koreas agree to reunions of war-separated families US companies like Micron are accusing China of intimidation and outright theft to dominate tech Disney said it's willing to divest more Fox assets for to get a deal cleared by regulators Tesla is preparing to close a dozen solar facilities in 9 states Uber driver was streaming Hulu show 'The Voice' just before self-driving car crash: Police report OPEC heads into showdown over oil output, with Saudi Arabia and Iran on different sides Chinese media says US has 'delusions' as impact of trade war spreads YouTube introduces paid subscriptions and merchandise selling in bid to help creators monetize the platform Airbus says no-deal Brexit would force it to reconsider UK presence European stocks seen slightly higher ahead of OPEC meeting Euro zone hits 'historic moment' as it closes eight years of financial support to Greece Trade tensions are the biggest risk for the euro zone, the IMF says With freedom to drive, Saudi Arabia's women could change the economy Taiwan's Foxconn says biggest challenge is US-China trade war Euro zone agrees on debt relief package for Greece Asian shares set to decline, taking cues from Wall Street's losses; OPEC meeting ahead Chevrolet is bringing back the Blazer as a crossover Cramer Remix: It was the hottest group in the market until Red Hat reported SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket wins Air Force certification and a $130 million contract Cramer goes out on a limb in support of chipmaker Micron Okta CEO explains why his cybersecurity company has a leg up on big-name tech giants like Microsoft Cramer: CEO change aside, Intel's stock is too cheap at these levels The head of Amazon's marketplace has lost most of his authority amid internal shake-up Alphabet reportedly may spin out molten-salt project with Bill Gates' $1 billion energy fund Red Hat slides on low guidance Tax automation company soars after Supreme Court decision Why Amazon is the winner of the Supreme Court sales tax ruling Why some women are adopting Tom Brady's anti-inflammatory diet Retail companies trying to catch up to the times are scrambling to buy tech start-ups Buy Square shares because its sales will soar from its new services to restaurants: Instinet Former retail CEOs hail online sales tax ruling: Old law rewarded a ‘form of tax evasion’ Mark Zuckerberg is the richest he's ever been — and he's about to beat Warren Buffett Tech pioneer Jaron Lanier says companies should pay for data: 'Let's get out of the manipulation business' Tesla enhancing security at Gigafactory, says they got call that ex-employee threatened violence Kroger shares on track for their best day in 9 years on strong earnings Goldman Sachs: Weak stock market returns are ahead even with booming earnings Trader builds $5 billion position after realizing he wasn't using test program; brokerage says he can't keep his profit Abraaj, a private-equity firm, files for provisional liquidation A wave of new environmental laws is scaring shipowners Glencore dodges American sanctions rather than spurn its friends A maverick French telecoms firm attempts Italian conquest Most stockmarket returns come from a tiny fraction of shares China considers its response to Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs Dutch finance chief opposes latest Franco-German push to bolster euro area Cramer: I have faith others can take charge at Intel after Brian Krzanich's ouster Supreme Court rules that states can force online shoppers to pay sales tax Jim Rogers is the latest aging investing guru to launch an ETF programmed to trade like them Olive Garden owner's shares jump after earnings beat, dividend hike Red-hot chip stock Micron rises as Wall Street gushes over cloud computing memory demand A tech goof might have just leaked the date for Amazon Prime Day Intel's Brian Krzanich forced out as CEO after 'consensual relationship' with employee The Amazon Fire TV Cube is so good I want one for every TV in my house Martin Sorrell says his exit from WPP was like being 'hit by the bus' Micron's quarterly results, forecasts beat on higher chip demand Goldman Sachs upgrades stumbling Verizon and Charter shares: 'The pipes are not broken' The bull case for stocks in three charts Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: DRI, KR, T, VZ, KMB, NKE & more Netflix gets its second $500 price target this week as Wall Street love hits fever pitch Swiss National Bank’s Jordan: We stand ready to intervene in currency markets OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia just 'threw down the gauntlet' in its push to ramp up production GE may now be a buy after getting kicked out of the Dow. Here's why Diabetes defeated by diet: New fresh-food prescriptions are beating pricey drugs AT&T to launch wireless plans bundled with video after its Time Warner win China warns Trump's 'capricious' trade actions will hurt US workers

Technology

The crisis over a diversity memo is forcing Google to uphold its values while fostering debate

As a crisis unfurled at Google over an employee memo that argued biological factors helped explain the shortage of female engineers and leaders in Silicon Valley, some of the most pointed critiques of the company’s handing of the issue were posted to its own message boards.

Memegen, an internal forum that uses images overlaid with funny captions, was filled with irreverent posts that openly mocked how an email discussing the memo from Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, had leaked to the media so quickly. Other posts, seen in screenshots of Memegen that were shared with The New York Times by a Google employee, questioned why Google seemed to be taking cues from outsiders.

Memegen is one of many outlets provided by Google to allow employees to express themselves, argue, criticize products or policies, and even protest decisions by management.

Google’s liberal stance toward self-expression, enabled by those online forums, was created in part to show that it is not bound by the conventions that stifle more stodgy companies.

Read more from The New York Times:
How to watch a solar eclipse
If missiles are headed to Guam, here is what could stop them
Taking your data plan to a new iPad

Google has prided itself on its openness. Employees can search documents for information about different divisions within the company on its internal network. They can make announcements and share information on the employee-only version of the social media service Google Plus. They can use Memegen to criticize management and openly challenge executives with questions voted on by employees at weekly companywide meetings.

And Google employees typically have a lot to say. There are about 87,000 Google groups — essentially email lists formed around a central theme — and more than 8,000 discussion groups like “misc” — short for miscellaneous — where employees debate and disagree on topics ranging from the optimal temperature in the office to the brand of laundry detergent the company should use for washing employee towels.

That openness has gone hand-in-hand with the expectation that what was said at Google would stay within Google. That’s a big challenge when Google’s parent company, Alphabet, now employs 76,000 employees around the world.

The company’s decision to fire James Damore, a software engineer who wrote the contentious memo, has angered some employees who view his dismissal as a betrayal of this open-discourse culture. Google said he had crossed the line “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes” and many employees were upset about the views outlined in the memo.

Mr. Damore asserts that he was “fired for telling the truth” — a point he reinforced with his recently opened Twitter account @fired4truth.

Mr. Damore said he shared the missive, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” about a month ago with specific individuals and groups focused on diversity before posting it to a mailing list called “skeptics” on Aug. 2. Then, Mr. Damore created a companywide discussion group for the document. As more employees took notice, Mr. Damore’s words soon spilled out onto the internet.

He was fired on Monday, and the situation quickly escalated. Someone with access to an employee-only version of Google Plus made screenshots of messages written by Google employees pledging to create blacklists of colleagues not supportive of the company’s diversity measures.

The screenshots appeared on Breitbart News, which has celebrated Mr. Damore’s memo as an example of Silicon Valley’s intolerance of conservative views. A number of Google employees who had been outspoken on the matter started facing harassment on the internet.

On Thursday, as Google prepared to hold a companywide meeting to discuss the memo, questions submitted by employees for the event on another internal system called Dory started to appear in the media. That reignited concerns that internal discussions would not stay private.

A number of employees sent emails to Mr. Pichai and told managers that they planned to skip the meeting because they were worried that they would face online reprisals for speaking out. A half-hour before the event was expected to begin, Mr. Pichai sent an email canceling the meeting.

“In recognition of Googlers’ concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion,” Mr. Pichai wrote.

In an essay published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Mr. Damore said “there was no outcry or charge of misogyny” when he shared the memo initially. Only after the memo spread quickly online did the company take action, he wrote. Many Google employees recoiled at the document after he shared it more widely last week.

Last year, a Google security official sent a companywide email imploring employees not to leak information. Introduced as evidence in a lawsuit brought by a former employee alleging that Google’s confidentiality agreements were illegal, the email was telling because it highlighted the importance of open discussion at the company as well as its potential perils.

“Some of the recent discourse on Memegen and elsewhere within the company has been, shall we say, less than civil. Memegen, Misc, Internal G+ and our many discussion groups are a big part of our culture — they keep us honest — but like any conversation amongst colleagues, we should keep it respectful,” wrote Brian Katz, a Google director of protective services, investigations and intelligence.

Google’s embrace of openness was tested a few years ago when an engineer created a spreadsheet for employees to share salary information. As salary information flooded in, the spreadsheet became the most searched item on the internal network.

Erica Baker, the engineer who created the document and has since left the company, said she was reprimanded by her manager for the spreadsheet and was denied bonuses awarded to her peers. Google employees said the spreadsheet caused some headaches for human resources, but the company did not take down the document.

In his memo, Mr. Damore suggested that Google wasn’t quite so open. He said the company’s political biases created “a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.” He said that if Google couldn’t have an honest discussion about the gender gap at the company, it could never truly solve the problem.

Perhaps not surprisingly, his memo was also mocked on Memegen.

Shortly after Mr. Pichai canceled the companywide meeting, he spoke at a coding event for young women being held on Google’s campus in Mountain View, Calif. He stressed the importance of women in the technology and urged them to build things that will be used widely in the future.

“I know the journey won’t always be easy,” he said. “But to the girls who dream of being an engineer or an entrepreneur, and who dream of creating amazing things: I want you to know that there’s a place for you in this industry, there’s a place for you at Google. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You belong here and we need you.”

Source: Tech CNBC
The crisis over a diversity memo is forcing Google to uphold its values while fostering debate

Comments are closed.