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Google engineer's memo on diversity goes viral internally

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 8/7/2017 Katelyn Newman
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Google should base its inclusive campaigns on "ideological diversity," not biological, in its hiring and management practices, one of Google's senior software engineers decried in a file shared widely within the company on Friday.

In a 10-page Google doc memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” and picked up by media Saturday, the unidentified author argued that the representation gap in numbers of female employees and people of color as well as differences in their salaries compared to their white male counterparts should not be the sole focus for diversity in the workplace. Rather, it should focus on an individual's "psychological safety" rather than his or her physical characteristics.

"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," the engineer wrote. "Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business."

“We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism," the author, who identifies as a classical liberal, continued. "Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts."

Further, Google's left-leaning stance and "politically correct monoculture" has caused dissenters within the company to remain silent, the author wrote, which keeps the company from recognizing its own ingrained moral biases.

"Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems," the engineer said.

Danielle Brown, Vice President of Diversity, Integrity, and Governance at Google, responded to staff Saturday, saying that, while Google did not agree with the views expressed within the memo, being an inclusive company means accepting that employees will have varying beliefs.

"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," Brown wrote. "But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws."

The viral memo comes four months after the U.S. Department of Labor accused Google of shortchanging its female workers in similar roles to their male counterparts. While Google has repeatedly denied the allegations, the context within which the memo was shared suggest otherwise, an anonymous employee who described the document's contents told Motherboard's Louise Matsakis.

"The broader context of this is that this person is perhaps bolder than most of the people at Google who share his viewpoint—of thinking women are less qualified than men—to the point he was willing to publicly argue for it. But there are sadly more people like him," said the employee. "It's not worth thinking about this as an isolated incident and instead a manifestation of what ails all of Silicon Valley."

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