Categories: RegulationWorkspace

Google Disowns Anti-Diversity Document That Spurred Backlash

An internal Google document criticising the company’s diversity programmes as “discriminatory” has attracted a storm of criticism and an official repudiation from the company.

The 10-page document, apparently written by a male senior software engineer, was posted on an internal discussion board and was later published in full by Gizmodo.

‘Genetic differences’

The anonymous author claims to back diversity but argues Google’s approach to the issue ignores the differing capacities of men and women.

“Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50 percent representation of women in tech and leadership,” the author writes. “Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.”

He argues that women have a “stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men” and may prefer “jobs in social or artistic areas” while “more men may like coding”.

The author accuses Google of fostering a “politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence” and argues it should find “non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap”.

The document quickly attracted criticism from within the company and later on from the wider public, but the author wrote he had also received “personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude”.

Reflects ‘larger culture’

One female Google employee wrote on Twitter that the article was a “reflection of a larger culture, not a one-off opinion”.

As the response grew more heated over the weekend the company’s new vice-president of diversity, integrity and governance, Danielle Brown, sent an internal memo saying the document doesn’t represent “a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages”.

Brown said Google sees diversity and inclusion as “critical to our success as a company”.

“Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate,” she wrote in the memo, which was later published by Motherboard. “We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”

Pay discrimination probe

Google is currently the subject of a wage discrimination invstigation by the US Department of Labour, which in April said it had found evidence the company regularly pays women less than men in comparable jobs.

“We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Janette Wipper, a regional director for the department, testified in San Francisco at the time.

“The government’s analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry,” Janet Herold, regional solicitor for the department, told The Guardian.

Silicon Valley’s tech companies are notoriously dominated by male staff .

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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