Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Fired Google engineer continues blitz against company

Fired Google engineer continues blitz against company

I've already had my say in Wednesday's USA Today on how existing federal law would have helped shape Google's incentives in handling that furor.

The U.S. far right plans to take its dispute with Google to the company's doorsteps, with a nationwide "March on Google" set to take place this month.

The engineer, James Damore, was subsequently fired for violating Google's code of conduct.

Google's CEO had originally planned to address some of these issues at an all-hands meeting Thursday, but he canceled the meeting at the last minute due to concerns about leaks and employees being threatened and harassed online. The document slammed Google's "politically correct monoculture" and advanced gender stereotypes about women in the workplace. Other men working in tech, it seemed, felt the same way he did.

Damore has also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and has expressed interest in taking legal action against Google. Several high profile cases of sexual harassment have come to light recently in the Valley.

For its part, Google must now grapple with possible lawsuits; a fired employee who's fast becoming a public figure; an ongoing debate over the limits of free speech; a surge of employees leaking information; and a struggle to protect employees as it becomes the latest villain for the alt-right.

Can we talk about the story of whether Google, a company entrusted with everyone else's personal secrets, should let its own employees' confidential data be thrown open to the scrutiny of a vengeful world in the course of trying to show that its workplace is not rife with discrimination?

Google's gender score on Comparably
Google's gender score

In 2015 the U.S. Department of Labor launched a contract-compliance review of Google's employment practices related to diversity.

Meanwhile, Damore's memo appears to have fuelled the internal strife among Google's female employees. "Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate".

We all have moral preferences and beliefs about how the world is and should be. "Clearly there's a lot more to discuss as a group, including how we create a more inclusive environment for all", Pichai added.

The engineer, who has a doctoral degree in systems biology from Harvard University, according to his LinkedIn page, attacked the idea that gender diversity should be a goal.

The women's stories bolster the claims of USA labour department officials, who have said that a preliminary analysis found that women face "extreme" pay discrimination across the company and have recently raised concerns that Google's strict confidentiality agreements are discouraging employees from speaking up.

He quickly received support in conservative media outlets. While there are 20 per cent women in tech in Google in 2017 as compared to a mere 17 per cent in 2014, only one in four women hold leadership roles.

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