Google fires employee behind controversial anti-diversity memo

The company rebuked an employee's internal memo critical of promoting diversity.

ByABC News
August 7, 2017, 11:26 PM

— -- Google has fired the employee who wrote a controversial 10-page internal memo that criticizes the search giant for its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in its workforce, the company has confirmed to ABC News.

CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees about the matter on Monday, saying the staffer violated the company’s code of conduct.

The post went over “the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace," Pichai said. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” he added.

In the memo, which circulated on an internal company network and was first reported by Motherboard and published in full by Gizmodo on Saturday, the writer attributes gender inequality in the male-dominated tech industry to biological differences between the sexes.

“Distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and ... these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” the now-terminated employee wrote.

The memo also targeted what it referred to as a “left-leaning” workplace culture at Google and urged the firm to “stop alienating conservatives.”

The memo, titled “Google’s ideological echo chamber,” comes as the company fights a wage-discrimination probe by the Department of Labor, which said it found evidence that the Google often pays women less than their male counterparts. The company has denied those allegations.

In an email to employees on Saturday, Danielle Brown, Google’s newly appointed vice president of diversity and integrity, acknowledged the memo and said it “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender.”

“Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate,” she wrote. “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.”

“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,” Brown added.

Aristotle Balogh, Google’s vice president of engineering, also rebuked the memo in a separate email to employees, and several Google employees spoke out against the original memo as well.

“Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ’Nuff said,” Balogh wrote on Twitter.

The memo’s author claimed that he has received support and praise from fellow employees who are afraid to defend him publicly.

“Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change,” the author wrote in a comment to his original post before his termination was announced.

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