If you don’t like your boss’ rules, wingnuts say, then get another job. Except for rules about respecting your colleagues…. (More)

“Our words matter”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote a blunt and clear response to the whiny, misogynistic screed that went viral from an employee message board:

From: Sundar

Subject: Our words matter

This has been a very difficult few days. I wanted to provide an update on the memo that was circulated over this past week.
First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.”

The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. 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.”

At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent. So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo – such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all – are important topics. The author had a right to express their views on those topics – we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.

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. 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.

I have been on work related travel in Africa and Europe the past couple of weeks and had just started my family vacation here this week. I have decided to return tomorrow as clearly there’s a lot more to discuss as a group — including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.

So please join me, along with members of the leadership team at a town hall on Thursday. Check your calendar soon for details.

— Sundar

In short, Google encourages employees to question company policies and training programs … but publicly belittling the women you work with will get you fired:

James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He said he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

More on “currently exploring all possible legal remedies” in a moment.

“That’s a non-negotiable dealbreaker for me”

But first, despite countless media references to rocks, hard places, and tough spots, this wasn’t a difficult H.R. decision. Damore’s ignorant rant sparked days of distraction in Google’s workspaces and, as Pichai, had women at Google both seething and treading on eggshells. And along with the pending pay equity lawsuit, it was making life harder for Google recruiters:

Now, it looks like the backlash caused by the memo is starting to hurt the company’s chances with prospective employees. People have started to take to Twitter to share responses to Google recruiters in light of the scandal. 

“I’m reluctant to take this conversation further,” wrote engineer James Abley, citing both the memo and the pending lawsuit against Google for pay discrimination. “These things do not give me a good impression of Google’s culture.”

Another prospective recruit, Sam Stephenson, shared his response to a Google recruiter in which he criticized the company for its “disappointing” response to the memo. “It is not the response of a company that cares about fostering an inclusive work environment, and that’s a non-negotiable dealbreaker for me.

It’s disturbing that a Google VP would advocate for ‘fostering a culture’ in which employees should ‘feel safe sharing’ ignorant and hateful ideas.”

As we discussed yesterday, Google averages 130 applicants for every job opening. Abley and Stephenson had made their way through that culling. Stephenson was at the point of discussing salary and benefits:

Instead they said “No” and, at the link above, Mashable’s Karissa Bell reports they weren’t unique:

Others on Twitter said they hadn’t had an opportunity to interact with a recruiter since the memo went viral, but that they planned to bring it up if they were contacted.

No, wingnuts, that ‘manifesto’ wasn’t “common sense.” It was right-wing, misogynistic bullshit dressed up with pseudo-science. It violated company policy and caused tangible harm with both current and prospective employees. That will get you fired in almost any workplace.

“And by acceptance of an employment agreement and enrollment in a employer-sponsored plan, YOU give them that right.”

Besides, Google is a private business, and shouldn’t the employer’s beliefs and values be paramount?

Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.

“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the  Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”

Lesko said this bill responds to a contraceptive mandate in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law March 2010.

“My whole legislation is about our First Amendment rights and freedom of religion,” Lesko said. “All my bill does is that an employer can opt out of the mandate if they have any religious objections.”

That bill, by the way, became state law in 2012. And sure as sun rises in the east, wingnuts came out to say that was just fine because it’s the boss’s company:

Your employer has a responsibility to ensure that the contracted services he/she gets are being complied with from both the insurance company/patient to the patient/insurance company.

And by acceptance of an employment agreement and enrollment in a employer-sponsored plan, YOU give them that right.

Your boss can decide whether you’re using birth control for “the right reasons.” Your boss can also decide whether you can use the restroom or pee in your pants, or punish you for eating too much or exercising too little. Your boss can declare a no-smoking policy, not just in the workplace, but even when you’re at home. And wingnuts insist all of that is just peachy, because the boss owns the company and “he who pays the piper names the tune.”

Unless … it seems … the piper says you can’t publicly disrespect your colleagues, not even the ones with vaginas or dark skin. Then, oh my dear, it’s the “thought police” and you’re a veritable Martin Luther being punished “diversity heresy.”

Never mind that H.R. people and team managers have spent three days trying to clean up your mess. Never mind that you have female colleagues worried 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.’” Never mind that highly-sought prospective employees are turning away. Never mind that Google’s diversity policy is just market-based business sense, as Google manager Rajan Patel explains:

Ordering women to prove they’re using birth control for acne or hormone therapy – rather than to decide whether and when they want children – is the boss’ prerogative. But nothing – not workplace disruption, not colleagues’ ability to speak in meetings, not recruiting nightmares, not even wanting to better understand a worldwide, billion-person market – none of that outweighs your God-given, white male right to piss off anyone you damn well please.

“Trying to get fired so he could portray himself as a lonely martyr”

And have no doubt, that ‘manifesto’ was calculated to be as incendiary as possible while maintaining a paper-thin veneer of civility, as Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum explains:

I finally got around to reading the memo this afternoon. What surprised me wasn’t that Damore wrote what he did. I imagine there are plenty of Silicon Valley engineer-bros who are tired of all the SJW diversity lectures and have managed to convince themselves that it’s nonsense on the basis of what they think is rigorously impartial scientific analysis. Throw in a bit of conservative victimology and you have a pretty good taste of Damore’s memo. You can read the whole thing here if you want.

Like I said, that much didn’t surprise me. But there was something that struck me as a bit off-kilter about Damore’s memo. Maybe I’m over-reading things, but it seemed like Damore very calculatedly went further over the line than he needed to. For example, he didn’t need to argue that women are biologically unsuited for engineering jobs, something that he must have known would be both stupid and galactically incendiary. If he had simply said that women pursue software engineering careers in small numbers thanks to cultural and societal norms, it would have been less contentious and it wouldn’t have hurt his point. In fact, he really didn’t need to argue anything at all about the capabilities of women. He could have written a one-paragraph memo pointing out that, for whatever reason, female IT grads make up only x percent of the total, so it’s just not feasible for Google to employ very many women. He could bemoan this state of affairs, but point out that it has to be addressed starting in primary school, and by the time Google is involved there’s nothing they can do about the pool of applicants. So can we please knock off the sackcloth and ashes routine?

That still would have been wrong in several ways, but it probably wouldn’t have gotten him fired.

Drum offers a guess as to why Damore dialed up the fuck-you:

So why did he write what he did? Maybe I’m overestimating Damore’s sophistication, but something about his writing style made me think he had deliberately chosen not to take this tack. There was something about the amateurishness of his analysis that seemed strained, as if he was playing a role. And that role was simple: not to write about why he thought Google’s diversity programs were misguided, but to write something as offensive as possible in a way that allowed him plausible deniability. In other words, he was trying to get fired so he could portray himself as a lonely martyr to Silicon Valley’s intolerance for conservative views. Maybe he could even go to court, funded by some nice right-wing think tank.

So yeah, sure as the sun rises in the east, Damore is “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.” Because why actually work for a living when you can climb on the wingnut grift gravy train? He’ll probably have a paying gig at a wingnut website and a regular guest seat on Fox News before the month is out … drawing a six-figure salary to whine about being a victim of “political correctness.”

And they call us “snowflakes.”


Image Credits — Google Logo, Male & Symbols: Wikicommons; Faces: IconArchive; Composition: Crissie Brown (BPICampus.com)


Good day and good nuts