On Monday, Google fired the software engineer who penned the internal memo titled ‘Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber’ last week. Since identified as James Damore, the former Googler confirmed his dismissal from the company to Bloomberg and other media outlets.
The memo raised questions about the search giant’s internal policies, which promote diversity and inclusiveness based on false grounds according to the author, who instead credits the gender gap in the tech industry to biological differences between men and women, and factors like “neuroticism.”
The so-called anti-diversity manifesto sparked debate and outrage among Google employees and other firms in Silicon Valley. It was enough to get the new VP of Diversity and the head of the company to speak out against messages of this nature.
CEO Sundar Pichai weighed in on the controversy
Google CEO Sundar Pichai had to step in, as the memo climbed up the ladder over at Mountain View, neighboring tech giants, and other startups. In a memo of his own titled ‘Our Words Matter,’ the head of the company stated that some parts of the memo had simply “crossed the line.”
He cited Google’s Code of Conduct, which establishes that the workplace culture at the firm must be one that fosters no “harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.” In turn, the executive believes the author of the memo advanced harmful gender stereotypes.
Pichai cut short a family vacation that just started this week to tend to the issue at hand, and called for a town hall meeting with Googlers on Thursday. He did not explicitly inform employees about Damore’s firing in the memo, but the engineer himself confirmed it to the media later on Monday.
— (((Yonatan Zunger))) (@yonatanzunger) August 6, 2017
Mr. Damore will seek legal action against Google
Other senior executives, including a former software team leader from Google itself, called out the author of the manifesto on his actions, saying he understood neither gender nor engineering and that he was lucky to not have been fired up until that point.
Upon confirming his forced departure from the search giant, Mr. Damore also told the press that he would be “likely be pursuing legal action” and that he was exploring possible legal remedies to his unfortunate situation.
According to the New York Times, Damore was not in a senior position as previously reported although he had been part of the infrastructure team of Google’s search division as a software engineer since 2013.
The man who questioned ‘Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber’ had filed a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board prior to his firing, and some believe the company might not be entirely on the right by having let him go from his position.
Some suggest that the memo technically counts as internal communication that poses improvement over working conditions, which is protected by federal law. State laws of California also protect employees’ rights to have a political ideology and express it freely, while internal policy might also be used to support his claims.