Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

Google 'Almost Like a Cult', Says Engineer Fired Over Diversity Memo

Google 'Almost Like a Cult', Says Engineer Fired Over Diversity Memo

The last-minute cancellation is the latest twist in a saga that began last Friday with a few tweets about a long memo by Damore which quickly became a publicity inferno, calling into question Google's focus on increasing the number of women, African-Americans and Hispanics in its technical and leadership ranks, as well as the company's commitment to free speech and the limits of internal debate.

James Damore, the Google engineer fired after writing a controversial 3,300-word memo on diversity, is questioning why Google pushed him out when it did.

Jordan Bernt Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto posted on his Twitter page a lengthy interview with James Damore, putting everything the fired employee said in context.

After reportedly cancelling a town hall meeting to allay fears over an anti-diversity manifesto, Google's Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai finally addressed a coding event for girls on the sprawling campus at Mountain View, California.

When former Google software engineer #James Damore's memo led to his termination and cast attention on the issues he raised, it created an uproar among female movers and shakers in business, academe and the tech industry.

The town hall was meant to hear out employee grievances over a flare-up that has consumed Google for much of the week.

In 2015 the U.S. Department of Labor launched a contract-compliance review of Google's employment practices related to diversity. Volunteers are planning a march on the company offices in nine cities on August 19, according to the March on Google website. "But our Dory questions appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally", Pichai said in an email to staff.

"We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward", Pichai said in a memo to employees on Thursday.

A number of employees sent emails to Pichai and told managers that they planned to skip the meeting because they were anxious that they would face online reprisals for speaking out.

On Facebook, conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos posted the Twitter biographies of eight Google employees who had criticised Damore. The engineer has claimed he had a right to voice concerns over workplace conditions and filed a labor relations board complaint prior to being fired. Damore's firing has sparked a furious debate both within and outside Google, with the alt-right reportedly outraged and even calling for a boycott of Google.

Up until June 2016, Google had complied with all of OFCCP's information requests, producing over 1 million data points and approximately 740,000 pages. And some are anxious that you can not speak out at work freely.

The now infamous memo had its origins in a diversity program that Damore, 28, attended at Google.

Another echoed Damore's criticisms: "I am a moderately conservative Googler, and I am and have been scared to share my beliefs".

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