Former Google engineer James Damore filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding his termination. Damore shot to fame after sharing the “anti-diversity memo” that he authored. Soon after the document went viral, Google fired Damore for “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.“
The 10-page document was titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.”
Many journalists have reduced the document to a “screed” or “anti-diversity memo,” but the truth is more complicated. Within the 10 pages are inclusive statements like, “I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more.” Unfortunately, critics have rightfully pointed out a number of tone-deaf suggestions, such as Google management should “de-emphasize empathy” in relation to diversity.
The short section on personality differences between men and women is emblematic of the memo’s major flaw. In this section, Damore states that women have more openness, “extraversion expressed as gregariousness,” and “neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).”
Damore’s angle seems to be that if he points out two good things about women, a shockingly offensive statement is allowed. That’s the attitude that landed him in hot water with Google management.
After the memo went viral internally, several employees leaked it to the press.
Conservatives in Silicon Valley are likely to view Damore’s firing as a confirmation that their views are not welcome in the left-leaning tech industry. Much of the document urged Google to work harder to not alienate right-leaning employees. Damore wrote, “Conservatives are a minority that
Of course, this is a task easier said than done. Damore’s specific right-leaning views aren’t just a political preference, they’re extremely offensive to many Americans. Consider this bullet point that ends Damore’s document:
“Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I’m not advocating for using stereotypes, I [sic] just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what’s said in the training).”
Experts say that Damore may have a case in court.
We know few details about the complaint that Damore filed with the NLRB. However, he told The New York Times, “I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does.”
A Fortune article details various laws that Google might have broken by firing Damore for writing the document. For its part, the company maintains that firing the engineer was necessary to ensure a habitable workplace.
“The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender,” Google chief executive Sundar Pichai wrote in a company memo. “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.'”