Google recently fired software engineer James Damore for writing an internal memo that questioned the company’s efforts to be more diverse and inclusive. In the memo, Damore argued that women have such low numbers when it comes to holding technical positions in the industry because of biological differences, not discrimination based on gender.
The memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” utilized gender stereotypes and broad generalizations to support the tech industry’s gender gap. The memo quickly spread throughout the company and Silicon Valley, resulting in numerous Google employees pushing back against many of the assumptions it contained, primarily the notion that at women aren’t interested in high-stress jobs because they are more anxious than males.
Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, sent out a company-wide email that’s said, “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” Damore had crossed a line and violated the company’s code of conduct.
“The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender…Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being ‘agreeable’ rather than ‘assertive,’ showing a ‘lower stress tolerance,’ or being ‘neurotic,’” wrote Pichai.
The publicity the memo received has put Google in a tough positon. While the company has a history of promoting a culture of openness, it has been dealing with criticism levied at the tech industry which suggests that not enough has been done to hire and promote women and minorities.
Speaking to the New York Times, Damore stated that he wrote the memo to engage in an “honest discussion” about Google’s intolerance for ideologies that do not align with the left. Damore went on to say that he believes the company’s decision to fire him was illegal and that he would pursue legal action.
Do you have more questions about workplace retaliation based on personal or political beliefs? Contact our Hollister employment law attorney to find out how we can help you today.