Google CEO Sundar Pichai, seen here delivering the keynote address at the Google I/O 2017 Conference at Shoreline Amphitheater, May 17, in Mountain View, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Google CEO Sundar Pichai strongly denounced a memo written by a now-fired male company employee attributing low number of women in technical posts to biological differences, saying it crossed the line by “advancing harmful gender stereotypes” in the workplace, writes Yoshita Singh.
Pichai, in a note to Google employees, said while the technology company supports the rights of its employees to express themselves, “portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
Google fired software engineer James Damore, Aug. 7, after he wrote a memo titled ‘Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber’ in which he had said that low number of women in technical positions was due to biological differences and not because of discrimination.
Terming the situation “a very difficult time,” Pichai said suggestions that a group of people have traits that make them “less biologically suited” to work is “offensive and not OK.”
Pichai, 45, said several Google employees have been hurt and impacted by the memo and they 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’.”
Pichai noted that co-workers must feel free to express dissent.
“So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo – such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all are important topics.”
Pichai said he was cutting short a family vacation and returning to the company as “clearly there’s a lot more to discuss as a group including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.”