Following the debacle of James Damore’s ‘Diversity’ memo and subsequent firing, Google decided a companywide townhall meeting was necessary to address staff concerns with executives planning to field employees’ questions voted on by their peers. The questions with the most votes would get asked.
A sampling of some of the most popular questions as of Tuesday, according to employees, reflects the spectrum of views on the memo and its fallout.
One question asks how Google will protect female employees who have been harassed online for criticizing the memo.
Another asks whether Google lowers the bar for diversity candidates.
Some questions complain about how conservatives aren’t welcome at Google.
And one asks how Google plans to stop leaks to the press.
A person familiar added that an additional top question was: “What can we do to clarify for the entire company that there is one hiring bar,” regardless of race or gender?
However, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the meeting has been cancelled because right-wing websites published the names of employees who had proposed questions, raising security concerns.
Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees that the company decided to cancel the highly anticipated meeting after employees expressed concerns “about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”
The implications of this are clear – there’s a leaker at Google.
Ironically, while the national liberal media speaks with one voice against Damore’s temerity to unleash some free speech bombs, and tech CEOs lined up arm in arm to support Pichai in his firing of Damore, Google employees are split over management’s dismissal of Mr. Damore, according to interviews and informal polls of employees. The Journal notes that some employees say Google executives didn’t go far enough to denounce Mr. Damore’s stance. Others say it is difficult to openly discuss diversity issues at the company because of a liberal bias among managers and colleagues at Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc.
And one employee said his managers’ reaction to Mr. Damore’s firing “has made it explicitly clear that any view not left (of) center is not welcome.”
There are “definite mixed feelings” inside the company, one employee said.
“There are people of all political stripes, and there’s outrage at the extreme of both ends of the spectrum and more sanity in the middle.”
Moderate liberals at the company don’t believe the memo threatens the rights of women at the company, while moderate conservatives don’t think his firing means they can’t express themselves, this employee said.
“But ultimately the loudest voices on the fringes drive the perception and reaction.”
As The Wall Street Journal concludes, however, Google’s liberalism was clear at an internal town-hall meeting after the presidential election, where top executives commiserated with employees over Donald Trump’s victory, according to a recording of the meeting viewed by the Journal.
Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat, who publicly supported Hillary Clinton, called the election results “a kick in the gut.” Executives fielded a variety of questions over the hourlong meeting but none of the questions were in support of Mr. Trump’s victory.
Which makes the following even more troubling for giant tech firm, in the mobile app Blind, where users must use their work email addresses to verify they are employees at a given company, a survey of Google employees reflected the divisions.
Of 440 Google employees who responded to a Blind survey on Tuesday and Wednesday, 56% said they disagreed with Google’s decision to fire Mr. Damore.