Is Diversity Working At Google?

by James Davis
President of DiversityWorking

General Diversity  Discrimination Law  Olympic Diversity  Diversity Weblog

Based on the recent firing of a senior software engineer at Google who published a 10- page memorandum about the diversity situation in the company, the answer is obviously no – diversity is not working at Google.

If diversity were working at Google, one would imagine that the employee’s ideas and observations would have been a basis for an enterprise-wide invitation that would spur additional dialog and conversations regarding his “anti-diversity” message.

After all, you would think that a company that invites diversity into its products would use that same formula of inviting diversity into its human capital as well.

It is a fact that a corporation can hire and fire any one at will, and that any good, reliable corporation needs an enterprise-wide consistency.

But if a corporation’s diversity statement – as published on its own website -- comes from the very individual who initiated the firing or its diversity director, and is in direct conflict with its own conduct, then something is wrong.

For example, the memorandum outlined that one or two ethnic workers are excluded from participating at the table in the hope other favorable ethnic workers will fill the gap. It shows they are misusing diversity and inclusion as an excuse to exclude another group.

This is akin to someone who sees African American slavery history as a bad thing. In order to make it good, you simply reverse the ethnic representation to transform the African American slave to a master.

The ethnic shift might be good in a limited way, but the idea of slavery is still bad. So, what does changing the ethnicity really do to fix the problem of slavery?

Google stresses gender and ethnicity for its diversity successes. They also break it out into hiring, inclusion, education and communities. Its CEO says, "A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone."

This diversity of voices is broken down into: Other, Hispanic, Black, Two or more races, Asian and White. All that is fine, except for the adherence back to its prime diversity mission as articulated by its CEO specifying that “a mix of voices” leads to betterness.

If so, why are they openly and publicly reinforcing the exact opposite? For those who use Google, how many do not like the non-speak and non-individual expression policy?

How has Google become so successful when speech, self-expression and debate seem to be its dictates? The answer may be only a recent one.

Google is now already teaching ethics to computers, with such questions as “should a Google driver-less car choose to run into a drunk driver or a family of seven crossing in between?” The car then decides which to run into, based on what Google engineers have decided. Think of how a company whose tech ethics can be so closed to ideas that they do not agree with, can silence an opposition.

What do you do then, if you don’t like what Google stands for and now decide to leave the company? Either as an employee or a user/customer, -- do you leave your high paying high benefit job, or as a user, decide you will now only use "Ask Jeeves?"

In a normal world, you could simply turn to a competitor. But, who will actually do that given that Google, for the most part, is the only act in town. No other company can stand up to it, not to mention its driver-less cars and so many other intellectual diversity-motivated products.

For diversity to truly be working, there also needs to be intellectual diversity. Without intellectual diversity, how can ethnic or gender diversity even be understood or appreciated?

With no intellectual diversity, there can be no real diversity, only ethnic and gender diversity. How boring is that?

What is exciting is the experience and skills one brings to the table. In order to work at Google, you need to be smart. There are so many ways to be smart. There is book-smart, computer-smart, car-smart, street smart, engineering-smart, and the ability to learn smart.

Let’s face it. To work at one of the greatest innovative, intellectual, and successful American-born companies would be exciting, especially for those who like to invent, build, and get rewarded very well every day.

So the question remains: Why did the engineer who authored that diversity memo get fired? I am sure the reasons are many. Let’s look at a few.

The Google engineer was fired because he exposed the company’s inner workings. He wanted to invite conversation that unfortunately, Google did not want to have.

If that were true, then why? Why is the concept of open conversation so difficult for the company to accept ? How does a company like Google continue to innovate when they put silence there, and put their best people in the closet or fire them?

Why does the number one innovator not invite open conversations within its rank, and not want to share ideas, especially since Google’s products and innovations will continue to lead in a global marketplace?

The fact is diversity, when it is working, makes us stronger.

I advise those who are reluctant to embrace intellectual diversity with their gender and ethnic brothers and sisters -- that often when there is no pain, there is no gain.

How else are we all better served than to look beyond our social and political group-think, not to mention peer and corporate pressure. Just like in high school, when you play social games best only to lose yourself in its midst.

What do the no-speak and free expression lead to?

Fascism tends to focus on racial purity, with an emphasis on a rule by an elite minority. Usually fascism is in opposition to freedom of speech and debate because historically, it is better not to discuss the ideology. Doing so would force discussion of its very existence, which has always been hard to defend -- unless of course you were the minority elite rulers.

It’s bad enough when that happens in politics, but to happen inside a company, it becomes its ugly cousin called corporate fascism.

If Google were making ashtrays or bowling balls, then there is no need for such unease. But given the fact they control information and create ethics-based products makes it one big reason for concern.

Google should either change its stated policy as articulated by its CEO, or invite free speech and debate on issues that might be against its corporate dogma.

Either you invite freedom of speech and expression or you don’t. Are you for or against diversity working at Google?

At least be honest about whether diversity is working at Google.


Google diversity memorandum:

Google diversity statement: CEO Sundar Pichai

"A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone."

Fascism: tends to focus on racial purity and emphasis on rule by an elite minority etc

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