Is There an Echo in Here?

Is There an Echo in Here?

It seems lately that Silicon Valley tech companies can’t stop creating negative headlines.  As we wrote in a previous blog post, there has been multiple sexual harassment and other related allegations in some of the top Silicon Valley companies as well as in the venture capital community.  In this week’s related story, James Damore, a Google Scientist, unleashed a ten-page manifesto on addressing diversity in the company.   To say it created a maelstrom is putting it mildly.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai was on a family vacation, and cut it short to take action on the situation.   What was his dilemma?  Do I keep Damore here based on Google’s support for free speech?  Do I fire Damore for helping to create a hostile work environment?   It was a tough decision but acting swiftly and decisively was key.  And, that is just what he did.  He fired James Damore believing the words and context of the internal memo written created a hostile work environment, which is counter to Google’s Code of Conduct.

What was in the document that Pichai believed it could create a hostile work environment?

In the document, "Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,"  Damore essentially goes on an extended rant about gender bias as well as other types of bias, which he believes is deeply ingrained in the Google culture.   He also describes political bias, i.e., left and right political biases and calls this a moral bias.  He goes on to describe potential reasons for gender bias at Google and describes personality differences in men and women.


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He continues the article with a summary of why he believes Google’s biases hurt the company and then has a long list of “suggestions” to improve the situation there including:

  • De-moralize diversity.
  • Stop alienating conservatives.
  • Confront Google’s biases.
  • Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders and races.
  • Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.
  • Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.
  • De-emphasize empathy.
  • Prioritize intention.
  • Be open about the science of human nature.
  • Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

He ends the document with some clarifications and statements related to what he wrote, e.g., that his perceptions were based on the Mountain View campus and not global locations, etc.

Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity, & Governance, Danielle Brown, distributed a follow-up memo to all Googlers, which further called out the importance of diversity and inclusion at Google.

While there is no doubt the James Damore article, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,”  created a blitz of activity, one positive from it is that there will probably be even more lean-forward action taken related to bias, diversity, inclusion, and hostile-free work environments at Google. 


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Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

Written by Darin Hartley, M.Ed., Director of Marketing, Syntrio

Posted in Code of Conduct, Compliance Training, Ethics, Managing Within the Law and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .