Google Addresses Controversial “Anti-Diversity” Memo Amid Public Backlash

Google is searching for a way to handle backlash after a controversial internal memo circulated within its offices this weekend.

“Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” is a 10-page, 3000 plus words missive that was shared late last week through internal company channels. The writer of the memo is a senior software engineer with Google, and has since been let go for violating the company’s code of conduct.

The memo covered a wide-range of ways the employee felt Google was failing its workforce and the company itself. The employee attempts to critically approach this controversial topic, though many have criticized the messages as anecdotal and sexist, as he purports biological differences, among other things, that affect abilities and performance.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a company-wide email titled “Our words matter” and outlined how the anti-diversity memo had broken the company’s code of conduct.

“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” wrote Pichai.

The search-engine giant has been subject to a lot of scrutiny lately, as they are currently fighting a wage discrimination investigation by the US Department of Labor and have been known to pay women less than men for comparable roles.

The missive was also shared through Google+, and the key points were posted and discussed by several Google employees. Though largely decried by both employees and the public, some rushed to defend the writer, even holding him in high-regard for responding to what some call a social justice culture.

According to Pichai, the difficulty for Google is learning how to address an employee’s right to express themselves while still maintaining professional conduct.

“The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree—while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct,” continued Pichai in the email. “I’d encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same.”

Google’s brand new VP of diversity, Danielle Brown, had to quell her first major fire by addressing the memo in a similar fashion to Pichai.

“Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions,” wrote Brown in a memo. “But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.”

Both Pichai and Brown confirmed that employee had broken Google’s policies and would be subject to facing the consequences. The company must now find a way to walk the line and respond to the voices of employees that spoke out against the memo, and those that supported it.

Techvibes has decided not to name the employee.