Fired engineer James Damore: Google is 'almost like a cult' (GOOG)

Google and other Silicon Valley giants are increasingly being targeted by the extreme right amid efforts to crack down on what

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.

Danielle Brown, Google's new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity and Governance, also issued a statement to Google employees in response to the viral memo.

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".

His memo has ignited a fierce debate about the company's culture.

My goal here instead is to relate another Google bias-claims-and-employee-privacy story from last month, which would have counted as fairly significant news in its own right had it not soon been eclipsed by the memo episode. Volunteers are planning a march on the company offices in nine cities on August 19, according to the March on Google website. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other employees condemned parts of the memo, before Damore was ultimately fired. The document slammed Google's "politically correct monoculture" and advanced gender stereotypes about women in the workplace.

Dory is a system used internally for Google employees to submit and vote on questions to be asked at town hall meetings.

Narrating the accounts of the female workers, the report quoted a former senior manager who recently left Google, as saying that she repeatedly learned of men at the same level as her earning tens of thousands of dollars more than her, and in one case, she said she had a male employee join her team with a higher salary despite the fact that she was his superior.

Silicon Valley firms such as Airbnb are grappling with efforts to promote inclusion while banning users promoting extreme views
Silicon Valley firms such as Airbnb are grappling with efforts to promote inclusion while banning users promoting extreme views

Pichai said in an email to staff that several Google employees became fearful for their safety and grew concerned about being outed for speaking up at the town hall. 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.

In an op-ed published on Friday in the Wall Street Journal, Damore wrote that he first circulated his lengthy memo to some people at Google about a month ago.

Damore has already filed a formal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming his rights were violated. It also faces an ongoing investigation from the Department of Labor over how it pays women.

Management at the largest tech firms, including Google, have publicly committed to diversifying their workforces, although the percentage of women in engineering and management roles remains low at many companies.

Inside Google, the memo and its fallout represent perhaps the biggest setback to what has been a foundational premise for employees: the freedom to speak up about anything and everything.

"I am a moderately conservative Googler", one employee wrote, "and I am and have been scared to share my beliefs". Conservative voices are hushed.

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