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Google Businesses United States Technology

James Damore Explains Why He Was Fired By Google (wsj.com) 1256

In an exclusive Wall Street Journal post, the engineer responsible for the anti-diversity "Google manifesto," James Damore, explains why he was fired by the company: I was fired by Google this past Monday for a document that I wrote and circulated internally raising questions about cultural taboos and how they cloud our thinking about gender diversity at the company and in the wider tech sector. I suggested that at least some of the male-female disparity in tech could be attributed to biological differences (and, yes, I said that bias against women was a factor too). Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai declared that portions of my statement violated the company's code of conduct and "cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace." My 10-page document set out what I considered a reasoned, well-researched, good-faith argument, but as I wrote, the viewpoint I was putting forward is generally suppressed at Google because of the company's "ideological echo chamber." My firing neatly confirms that point. How did Google, the company that hires the smartest people in the world, become so ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate and reasoned argument? [...]

In my document, I committed heresy against the Google creed by stating that not all disparities between men and women that we see in the world are the result of discriminatory treatment. When I first circulated the document about a month ago to our diversity groups and individuals at Google, there was no outcry or charge of misogyny. I engaged in reasoned discussion with some of my peers on these issues, but mostly I was ignored. Everything changed when the document went viral within the company and the wider tech world. Those most zealously committed to the diversity creed -- that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and all people are inherently the same -- could not let this public offense go unpunished. They sent angry emails to Google's human-resources department and everyone up my management chain, demanding censorship, retaliation and atonement. Upper management tried to placate this surge of outrage by shaming me and misrepresenting my document, but they couldn't really do otherwise: The mob would have set upon anyone who openly agreed with me or even tolerated my views. When the whole episode finally became a giant media controversy, thanks to external leaks, Google had to solve the problem caused by my supposedly sexist, anti-diversity manifesto, and the whole company came under heated and sometimes threatening scrutiny.

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James Damore Explains Why He Was Fired By Google

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  • Corrected headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @04:41PM (#54993669)

    James Damore Explains Why He Thinks He Was Fired By Google

    Fact of the matter is, as he was the firee, not the firer, he cannot speak authoritatively as to why he was fired by his employer. His employer is probably not going disclose the exact statements that led to the firing either, because any employer sufficiently large to have an HR department is going play its cards close to its chest to avoid creating grounds for lawsuit or to minimize those grounds.

    Everyone on the planet old enough to have life experience develops one's own set of biases. Generally it's wise to take care when expressing one's biases or when acting upon them, because if someone is indiscreet then one's indiscretions may lead to consequences. Mr. Damore did not exercise discretion and it has cost him.

    Fundamentally the workers in a business are not the owners of the business, and unless employees have reached sufficiently lofty positions in the company then they're to follow legal policy, not to set or otherwise determine policy. Granted, a tolerant employer can be better to work for, but there again, that kind of tolerance goes both ways, and an employer is only going to tolerate so much intolerance. In the eyes of his employer, Mr. Damore appears to have crossed that line.

    • Fact of the matter is, as he was the firee, not the firer, he cannot speak authoritatively as to why he was fired by his employer.

      Not precisely true. He can speak authoritatively on why they said he was fired. Companies would be wise not to mince words on this point, too, as that can come back to bite you in the ass during litigation ( ie: told employee they were fired for x, but instead says y ).

    • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @04:52PM (#54993801)

      Generally it's wise to take care when expressing one's biases or when acting upon them, because if someone is indiscreet then one's indiscretions may lead to consequences. Mr. Damore did not exercise discretion and it has cost him.

      Ah, yes. In a company that is supposedly trying be a model of diversity and a leader in improving diversity in the tech sector, trying to discuss matters related to diversity is an indiscretion. Imagine if he had proposed that Google was not using the best algorithm for search or that perhaps they were not choosing optimal locations for their data centers.

      Indiscretion implies doing something you are not supposed to do. For example, talking about Fight Club would be an indiscretion. If people really think that trying to raise issues and questions in order to engage in a worthwhile debate (regardless of the topic) is an indiscretion, then I would argue that they are part of the problem.

      The situation you describe would be considered rather authoritarian. Perhaps Google should figure out who leaked and sack those individuals and then go on to have an actual discussion about diversity instead of trying to silence the discussion.

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @04:55PM (#54993857) Journal

    He became a distraction! You never want to be a distraction in any job. Your reason for being there is to help the company get it work done. Once YOU become the topic of conversation rather than the objectives its a problem. Unless you are a C-Level and even than it can be a problem.

    Now I find Google's policies and this diversity business "deplorable" I think companies should hire the best qualified candidates they can get that want to work there for what they are offering to pay, full stop. The moment you start giving special consideration to someone's skin color, gender, sir name, or any other damned thing that isn't immediately relevant to their expected job functions you are off in heave bullshit territory in my book. I would even go as far as to say I agree with almost all the content of his little manifesto.

    I still understand why he got fired though!

    He was not a hiring manger, he does not work in HR. If he thought Google was engaging in some kind of illegal discriminatory hiring practice there were probably a small number of official people who should have raised that concern with and likely given them more than a couple weeks to respond to serious matter like that. He kept circulating the document, he should have reasonably know would cause controversy, though to a wider audience of people who did not need to be involved.

    So Boom gets fired. Now I hope I am right I hope he was fired for being a distraction and not just because someone important "disagreed."

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @04:56PM (#54993869)
    FTFY.

    .
    It is a shame he still seems to be unable to comprehend why he was fired. As an Engineer he should know that the has to identify a problem in order to fix it. Unless he recognizes what the problem really is, then he will just continue spinning in place, looking more and more foolish.

  • I Quit Engineering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2017 @04:58PM (#54993907)

    I am a white male in my 40s, and I recently quit the engineering profession because of just this kind of political bullshit. Companies that used to be devoted to the pursuit of science and technological achievement have been co-opted by the social justice movement, and it makes for a very hostile work environment.

    I quit because a certain team of HR administrators decided that white males over 40 were no longer welcome at the company. White males over 40 (and only those of us over 40, mind you) were required to take QUARTERLY diversity training and sign oaths of affirmation of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

    The last straw came when, as a manager, I was told that I was no longer allowed to determine my raise distributions and that my director would dole out my raise pool. Guess what - not a single white male over 40 in my group (myself included) were given raises the last two years.

    So I said screw it. I quit. Now I'm a certified financial planner and I couldn't be happier. I don't make as much money yet but I'll be damned if I'm not thrilled to go to work every morning again. That's something I haven't felt in a decade.

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @05:00PM (#54993925)
    James specifically posted it In response to a request by google for critical and controversial thoughts on equality in the workplace. James starts out by explaining that it is wrong to take the average of a group of people and assign that value to each individual, at no point does he say individual women or any other individual from a group can't do well. Instead it is a well reasoned and cited document. Later on it was backed by at least 6 experts in the fields of biology and psychology, citing scientifically accepted causes for differences beteeen groups of people. It outlines how cultural taboos create opportunity inequality by attempting to force outcome equality through sexist and racist bias. Because he was right, it inflamed SJW and the corporate monoculture so badly no one even read it before resorting to a strawman argument set aflame from the torches of seething angry internet warriors.
  • Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @05:05PM (#54993999)

    How many times are we going to have this same (group) argument?

  • Diversity does not mean everybody is the same, except to Unoi’m Carasee, Vice President of Mutually Exclusive Propositions. [crisismagazine.com]

  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @07:48PM (#54995533) Homepage Journal
    I would suggest that he got fired for everything between the headings of "Personality differences" and "The harm of Google's biases", where he belittles every traditionally feminine strength. His belief that the male way of being an engineer is inherently better than the female way of being an engineer demonstrates a deep ignorance of what the company is trying to do and the way he handled it is exactly the sort of thing the company is trying to get rid of.

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