Earlier this month, Motherboard reported that a senior Google employee wrote a 10-page ‘sexist’ memo and shared it internally within the company. The memo went viral, Google sacked the employee today and Sundar Pichai strongly condemned the memo.
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The 10-page long memo titled ‘Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber’ stated that women aren’t underrepresented in tech due to some bias in place but because they aren’t psychologically capable enough like their male counterparts.
“I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” the Google employee wrote in the letter published in full by Gizmodo.
In reply to the memo, Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, Danielle Brown said, “Like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect 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.”.
The senior Google employee responsible for publishing the memo has been fired by the company and CEO Sundar Pichai has stepped in to handle the situation too — cutting short his family vacation.
Although the Google CEO stated that every Googler has a right to express themselves and that the contents of the memo make up for a fair debate, portions of the memo violated Google’s Code of Conduct and ‘cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace’.
“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender,” Pichai wrote in the letter to Google employees.
Pichai also pointed out that though the memo was offensive to the female gender, it raised good points such as questioning the ‘role of ideology in the workplace, debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all’ and other criticisms regarding Google’s training.
“There are coworkers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent,” Pichai continued.
While he condemned the sexist remarks in the author’s memo, Pichai remained consistent that employees at Google have the right to express their opinions — as did the author of the viral memo — but in line with the company’s Code of Conduct.