Was Google wrong to fire the author of that anti-diversity memo? | The Tylt
Was Google wrong to fire the author of that anti-diversity memo?
Yonatan Zunger, former Google Chief Architect for Social, brought up three points in response to Damore's memo. Because he recently left a senior position at Google, Zunger was uniquely positioned to comment candidly on the situation in many ways current Googlers could not.
Zunger has three main points in his post:
(1) Despite speaking very authoritatively, the author does not appear to understand gender. (2) Perhaps more interestingly, the author does not appear to understand engineering.(3) And most seriously, the author does not appear to understand the consequences of what he wrote, either for others or himself.
The whole piece is worth reading. Zunger brings up good points that not only address Damore's memo but sexism and other problems inherent in the tech industry as a whole. He wraps up his post by writing:
I need to be very clear here: not only was nearly everything you said in that document wrong, the fact that you did that has caused significant harm to people across this company, and to the company’s entire ability to function. And being aware of that kind of consequence is also part of your job, as in fact it would be at pretty much any other job. I am no longer even at the company and I’ve had to spend half of the past day talking to people and cleaning up the mess you’ve made. I can’t even imagine how much time and emotional energy has been sunk into this, not to mention reputational harm more broadly.
Conservatives say Damore's firing proves how intolerant Google is against non-liberal thought. The whole point of Damore's memo was to advocate for diversity of thought over dogma. It's impossible to have a genuine discussion about anything if certain ideas are declared off limits. This is even worse at a place like Google, where hard ideas must be discussed and hashed out.
I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).
I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.