A document entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” in which an employee strongly criticizes the company’s efforts towards diversity and equality has gone viral. The opinionated article was written by an unnamed senior software engineer, and it accuses Google of political bias while calling for great “ideological diversity.”
The document has been dubbed a “manifesto” and it went viral within Google. It was shared internally on a mailing list, and several Google employees tweeted about its existence. It did not take long for the rant — which attributes the gender gap in technology to biological differences between the sexes — to go public, and for Google to attempt to distance itself from the contents.
Weighing in at some 10 pages, the document — first reported by Motherboard — is a fairly lengthy one. The author recognizes that many people will not take the time to read through it in its entirety, and therefore took the time to include a TL;DR, bullet-pointed version at the beginning:
- Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
- This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
- The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
- Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
- Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
- Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.
Responding to the document, Google’s vice president of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, Danielle Brown, said to Motherboard that it is “not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.” She also says:
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. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.
Google’s vice president of engineering, Ari Balogh, also responded to the document, saying:
I’d like to respond to the “pc-considered-harmful” post. Questioning our assumptions and sharing different perspectives is an important part of our culture, and we want to continue fostering an environment where it’s safe to engage in challenging conversations in a thoughtful way. But, in the process of doing that, we cannot allow stereotyping and harmful assumptions to play any part. One of the aspects of the post that troubled me deeply was the bias inherent in suggesting that most women, or men, feel or act a certain way. That is stereotyping, and it is harmful.
With so many technology companies now desperately focused on trying to improve diversity and equality in the workplace, the document provides and interesting insight into how such schemes are viewed from the inside.
The full text of the document can be read on Gizmodo.
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