After the outcry over an ‘anti diversity memo’ written by a Google employee, the employee, engineer James Damore, published a defense of his memo in the Wall Street Journal. He said he was upset over the way the company functions and referred to it as an ‘echo chamber’ and ‘a cult’. He gave a detailed explanation on why he was fired and held the company responsible for the prevailing culture in the organization.
He said, “For many individuals, working in Google is an identity in itself, like a cult with its own leaders and saints, all righteously upholding the company’s motto, ‘Don’t be evil.’” Damore was terminated because of a post he wrote where he argued that men are more capable of doing tech jobs than women.
Damore worked as a Google engineer for three and a half years, and he has not been apologetic about what he wrote. But he did mention, in an interview to a conservative blogger, that working at Google is a dream job for any engineer and that the company does provide many benefits. However, in his post, he said that not all disparities between men and women are because of discrimination, which was in direct opposition to Google’s stand on the issue.
Damore stated that when he tried to engage in a discussion with the team, his voice was not heard and he was “ignored”. Quoting a line from Noam Chomsky, Damore wrote in his post that, “the smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
Experts feel, considering the content of Damore’s post, that it is very difficult to sympathize with him. But some say Google’s decision to fire him was a bit harsh, arguing that expressing a not-so-popular opinion is not grounds for termination. The company likely felt compelled to make the decision, not so much because of the public outrage, but because of the legal risk involved. Had they allowed Damore to continue working, the company may have pushed itself into complicated legal territory.