The basics are:
- Like many Colleges and left leaning institutions, Google pretends to have an open culture, but they don't mean it. Or if they do, it doesn't matter because of progressive group-think.
- After James Damore attended one of the company's indoctrination sessions on "Diversity" he felt it was "secretive" and "shameful."
- When he mentioned that internally, he was attacked and saw others who felt the same get persecuted. So he wrote a rebuttal titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber", in response to their training, explaining what it's like to have an informed (but minority opinion) inside of Google.
- He used the example of their faux "Diversity Efforts" to demonstrate the problem of groupthink -- but the point of the article was the intolerance and bias towards opposing views.
- The article was civil, fact and science based, and meant for internal-only consumption (in a forum designed for free exchange of ideas). And being a PhD biologist, his main supporting points was that men and women are different biologically, and thus behave differently. So those blaming 100% of the differences in employment rates or salaries on the evil patriarchy or sexism or lack of sensitivity, are in denial. His point was that their willingness to ignore facts, and shout-down or punish heretics, was proof that they aren't interested in the intellectual diversity they claimed to want.
NOTE: I've written a similar screed, for the same reasons, but mine was from the point of economics instead of just psychology/biology: Gender Wage Gap. Still, same result -- you can't be fully informed, honest, and espouse the commonly repeated politically correct views. The facts are far more nuanced than those.
- His point about diversity were supported with generally accepted facts in scientific circles (or at least contested ones with statistical support). But they're hot-button issues to the easily triggered mobs in Colleges, Press Rooms and Google. Facts that Women have higher anxiety disorders, or value work-life balance more than men (and not as driven by career goals alone), triggered the far left within Google and without.
- The media, left, and Google execs were apoplectic that someone would expose the cult's falsehoods. Since they couldn't address the points that Google was an intolerant echo chamber, nor could they address the point that men and women think/act differently (and thus diversity and fairness isn't as easy as headcount and salary parity), they did the only thing they could -- they changed the topic. They misrepresented what James said, and then burned down their straw-men.
- To show how tolerant Google and the left is towards opposing views, multiple execs attacking him publicly (Internally and externally). Then they fired him for imaging he said things he did not.
- This of course outraged the informed against Google, has a more oppressing effect to employees (or perspective ones), and martyred James's for taking on a corrupt and abusive system. James created a twitter feed and got an army of followers, started a lawsuit (that Google will eventually settle), and the company meeting had to be cancelled because Google's progressive intolerance was now under the microscope, with leakers and whistleblowers emboldened to get their 15 minutes of fame at Google's expense.
NOTE: Google CEO Sundar turned a PR disaster, into a hypocrisy exposing catastrophe. They should have shut up, quietly given him bad reviews and persecuted him like happens to other moderates and conservatives in Google, and let James's 15 minutes die out. They should have tracked down and fired the leaker, not James. They should have addressed some of James's points, if they want to pretend to be open and squelch the idea that they're a progressive echo-chamber. But they ran into the fire with gasoline instead.
You can read James's document "Google's Ideological Echo-Chamber", and in fact, everyone who wants an informed opinion on the document must.
I read it once, then people were saying it said things I hadn't read, so I read it again. It still didn't say what they said it said.
His key points, as summed up at the top are:
- Google's political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
- This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
- The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology. (He defines Extreme and Authoritarian)
- Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don't have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership.
- Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.
So 5 basic points, only one of them is about Women/Diversity in Google, and he's using it as an example of the problems with Google's one-size-fits-all progressive culture (the echo chamber). Or the article would be titled and prefaced as something else like, "Why I hate Women", which is what the Press would like you to believe it's about. It ain't that.
That one point of the article (#4) that is about traits between men and women, is NOT saying that sexism is OK. Quite the opposite, he points out that you can't judge individuals based on group/population statistics, and that there likely is sexism as a problem as well. It's just that diversity programs that ignore the bigger underlying issues might be impacting the rates of diversity more than the dogma of micro-aggression. If companies really want to fix those things (or be as open-minded as they claim to be), then we need to discuss what might be problems besides just the "men are always wrong" feminist view of the world, and why many women drop out of engineering roles at such a high rate. So if anything, it's a pro-diversity screed, not an anti-diversity one that the left misrepresented it as.
But even mentioning political hot-button issues in a place like Google, will get you demoted, attacked, or in his case, fired. Exactly as his document complained about.
Again, the problem (and his point) isn't whether you agree with him or not, it's that voicing a dissenting opinion in that culture will get you attacked or driven out. Google proved his point for him.
Look, I've been in and around media to expect much from them -- and they usually fail to achieve my low expectations. This was no exception.
The article was portrayed as a 10 page screed or manifesto, but it actually uses large type, with footnotes, links, index, tables and graphs, so at 3,000 words, it's about 3 pages of typing, and really not that long. But you have to discourage people from reading it, if you want to mischaracterize it.
Some places like Gizmodo omitted the links, which was probably more incompetence than malice, but it makes the article look less sourced than it was. (A few were ranting about how if he knew what he was talking about, he'd have offered sources, until they were corrected).
Most of the media summaries were sloppy lies (claiming the author said things he did not), such as:
- WaPo, "Google Engineer says 'Women are genetically unsuited for Tech Jobs"
- CNN, "controversial memo that argued women aren't biologically fit for tech jobs"
- Time Magazine, "Google Has Fired the Employee Who Wrote an Anti-Diversity Tirade"
- The Atlantic, "screed" and "facile defense of jingoism"
- Forbes, HuffPo, ABC, "anti-diversity memo"
- Slate associates him with white supremacists
What did the horrible sexist bastard of an author actually say? Things like:
These don't seem like the words of someone that's a "white supremacist" and "jingoist" writing an "anti-diversity tirade". And nowhere in the article did he say that Women are "genetically unsuited to Tech Jobs", he was arguing the opposite -- that maybe the environment in some Tech Companies was unsuited to Women, and that if we want to fix that, we should do things like add more flex time, lower stress levels, not value just the biggest dick with tech worship, and things like that. They didn't even get the premise right.
Again, if you care about diversity of thought and people's ability to voice opinions, the proper response to a leak, is to attack the leaker. Even if you dislike what was said, you say "I disagree with him, but defend his ability to say it", and you go after the person who leaked. If you want to prove Jame's hypothesis that they're close minded wrong, you respond with civility and tolerance, and all but ignoring his opinion on a topic. (Let that get fought over in the court of public opinion, not in the HR meeting room). So by my reckoning, Google only made it worse.
Google was so tolerant, that at the accusation that they weren't inclusive, their executive staff attacked and fired the guy who said it. What could be more tolerant and inclusive than that?
Who needs prudence?
- Fortune pointed out that instead of Google taking a step back, assuming some responsibility (in what he said), letting things cool down, they tried to step on it with a jack boot. And the perception of Corporate Progressives crushing the little guy, just doesn't play well: especially when the court of public opinion is still deciding which side to come down on.
- You ignore things you don't want to draw attention to. If you want to address points, you show what points were wrong. Vague implications that something in the article is wrong, without being able to express what and where, and saying you won't link it because it was so bad in places that you can't articulate, only fans the flames of curiosity. It draws attention to the original by failing to offer any examples, and rational folks think, "how bad can it be?", and thus hunt it out and read it. Progressives just take the word of the press or their cult leadership -- but you're trying to persuade everyone, not just the progressives.
Google's YouTube CEO: Susan Wojcicki made |an irrational rant, that did nothing to help the perception of rationality of Women in tech.
- She used her daughter as a prop to ask the question, "are there biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership", and then to reach in the anti-science conclusion that “No, it’s not true". While it's not politically correct, the facts are that of course there's biological reasons there are fewer Women in those roles. That just doesn't mean we should discourage Women from taking those roles, or ignore that they are still quite accomplished and capable, even if a few of them say things as silly as Susan did.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a fraudulent and hypocritical post that bit him in the ass.
- While it had its fanboi's at Inc., it too draws attention to the debate with vagaries (which only increases curiosity). If you say it violates policy and "cross[es] the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes", then you need to show specifically where. Was it where the author said specifically not to do that (generalize)?
- Then worse. When it tries to bring out a point like claiming the article said, "Women are less biologically suited" to work in tech, it gets it 100% wrong. The article doesn't say that at all. The implications are the opposite: that certain Tech roles are not culturally suited to what Women value, and if you want to improve diversity, we should address that.
- So I get that the truth melts snowflakes and hurts feelings. But if you're going to jump into a debate, or make proclamations, get the basics right. And when you say things in the memo like, "we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions"... you don't reverse yourself and fire the guy, without looking like a hypocrite.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai fired James Damore for disagreeing with progressive orthodoxy. Though they made up a reason, but really it was retaliation for telling the truth and challenging the status quo.
No one I've met, doubts there are brilliant and motivated women engineers, socially insensitive male engineers, or that there can be sexism in engineering ranks. I also don't know folks that wants to see their daughters, sisters or friends denied opportunities, or in a hostile workplace because of their gender. I've heard of them in theory, never met one in real life. However, far more common is people that will hire/deny people to meet quotas, blame men or top performers for their "privilege". So while I don't want to see my daughters persecuted or denied opportunities for who they are, I don't want to see it for our sons either.
While the point of the article wasn't the science (the point was the echo-chamber and intolerance to intellectual diversity), James was still attacked over the science and spreading the myth that Women and Men react to situations differently.
If you think about the argument of the left, it's almost laughable:
- they say that we need Women in political positions, judges, and so on, because they think different than men and need to represented
- they claim that Gays and Trans-folks are born that way: they have no choice, it's gender brain differences.
- they demand that men are insensitive when they don't adapt to how women-folk look at the world. Then "OMG, you said that Women and Men are different! How DARE you!"
- they claim that Men and Women's brains/thinking isn't any different - but men have 8-13% larger brains. If they work exactly the same, then women are disadvantaged by volume. If they do work differently (which is what biology tells us), then their outrage over pointing that out, is just anti-science
Fundamentally, this gets down to the reality that if you yell long enough at a man, he's more likely to punch you, and a woman is more likely to cry. Same stimulus, but statistically different responses. That doesn't mean every guy is violent or every woman is weepy, it just means we are different, and a good manager or company knows this and adapts to both. Women should NOT be belittled because of those differences, but nor should we pretend those differences don't exist. But that's what the denialists demand.
They can't have it both ways, blame the patriarchy for holding women back, then deny there's any difference in the way we think. Which is it? If we think alike, then diversity training is a waste of time or at least as much the fault of the women that work there -- or we do think differently which is why we need diversity training, thus these differences must be part of the conversation. Pick one.
The sane and informed, all admit that even if you don't agree with every point James made, most of what he said was fact based, or at least disputed enough that it should be able to be said without fanatics claiming that it's anti-diversity sexism meant to oppress Women, and fire him over it. (Especially in the context of an article that says we should address the issues, not use them to discriminate based on them). You can read the links at the bottom on the science -- but there's more real scientists that agree with him, than disagree.
Between a rock and a hard place: Google was put in an awkward place: (a) put up a strong legal defense against charges against diversity, by attacking diversity of thought. (b) Defend diversity of thought by alienating those who believe 100% of the disparity between men/women engineer headcount or salary can be explained by micro aggression and sexism -- which any rational person knows is not true. They chose the former. That, like the other choice, comes with consequences.
I'm guessing google felt that if they would rather fire those that challenged social norms, than risk lawsuits over the politically incorrect. Hey, their company, their choice. But that will have some big consequences on their corporate culture and brand perception.
Not to mention their legal arguments (they painted themselves into a corner). Google is being sued for sexism, and you can bet their arguments are going to use many of the points that James made. I wonder if they'll fire their lawyers when done? If James is wrong (and thus the firing was justified), then it proves Google is sexist and the only justification for differences in pay/headcount is sexism, and thus Google should be liable for billions. Can't wait for that delicious plate of irony to be served in a court of law.
Whether they intend it, or not, they put a sign on their job reqs that said, "no Irish, social conservatives or moderates need apply". And added a line in their policy that said, "questioning PC orthodoxy is a fireable offense"
Whether James's view is valid or not, a company or country that enforces thought crime (punishes based on not what was actually said, but what can trigger others), drives a wedge between what people think and what they feel free to say. Google will likely become a more closed, intolerant and repressed culture, where the public views and private views of employees will be more incongruous, and employees wear facades for fear of reprisals. Sundar owns that.
The women who nodded in agreement with what James said will be driven down, out, or forced to self censor, just as much as the men. So the reprisal wasn't a defense of the triggered protecting "women", as much as it was a bunch of thought-fascists firing putting a bullet in the head of a protestor, as a warning shot against those who might trigger others.
Instead of capitulation or being bullied, James defended his reputation and actions against Google. And so far, James is beating Goliath.
- Damore will sue, and probably win or settle (eventually).
- Even if James loses the case, Google loses more as long as the lawsuit and bad PR drags on, and he gets publicity and fame as the martyr taking on the giant.
- He started a twitter feed #firedfortruth and got 10,000 followers in hours.
- James wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal to get out his side of things. As well as did multiple interviews, to make sure that a mega-corporation couldn't drown him out, or twist the story too far.
Frankly James came across a lot better than an army of PR people, Lawyers and Google execs.
Most didn't like the firing, and I have serious moral concerns about those that defend it. Even polls of Google and most companies in Silicon Valley (one of the most progressive and least tolerant places in the U.S.) had the majority saying Google was wrong on this one. Many came down on the Google is wrong side of things . I have yet to find an intelligent article on the Google was right side: so none that I would link to. And Dan Eaton did both -- first wrong, then right. (He was right the first time).
NOTE: The best defense of Google I've seen was that claims that if James had more EQ, or wrote things softer and less factual, that maybe he wouldn't have gotten the visceral reaction. Sorry, that's dumb. The guy works at Google, and most of the capital there is supposed to be facts and appeals to logic, not empathy -- so "know your audience". Appeals to emotion shouldn't work at Google, which is what the exec staff did. Plus, I've never met an SJW or someone that wants to be triggered, that can be approached on their hot-button topic du jour, without triggering them -- no matter how softly the topic is broached. Those that want to be offended, will be offended. And those who want to use that offense as a rationalization for proving the offender right, were offended.
- Google cancelled an all hands meeting, because they're going to be under the same scrutiny that they put all dissenters of Googlism.
- Google's image is tarnished. While Google (and Facebook) had a reputation in the valley as being more cult than company, from their herd-hiring practices, to using terms like "Googler's" to self refer to one of the flock, this event brought it to the forefront, and will cause many candidates to choose other opportunities: many people just want to join a company, not a cult.
Businesses can be forgiven for behaving like businesses. But people are less tolerant when they start behaving like churches or thought-police. George Orwell gave us Animal Farm, but Sundar gave us "Cubicle Farm", "all opinions are valid, but some will get you fired".
By invading their employee or their customers private lives, Google (and Facebook) are stepping into the latter roles, and they just woke more people to how far down the slippery slope they are. If Google's thought police can fire you for Newspeak at work, imagine what sharing all your private information with them could allow them to do?
There are a few companies that have near monopolies on our information: Google, Facebook, and a handful of others. Suddenly people "woke" that Maybe giving them advertising info, search history, email and Social Networking isn't such a good idea? The sleeping public (or a percentage of them), and Social Activists (at least the civil libertarian ones), realized not only how badly Google handled this situation, but are starting to revisit others.