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Michael Swartz / August 11, 2017

Doing a Google Search for Diversity

A look at Google’s hard-left monoculture, politically correct atmosphere and code of groupthink.

It may be an employee’s worst nightmare: writing a thoughtful memo to promote discussion and improve one’s workplace — and getting fired for it. We wrote about the 10-page memo that compelled Google to fire software engineer James Damore a few days back, but since then we’ve heard his side of the story.

Damore says his firing offense was “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He also noted that Google was “telling us about a lot of these potentially illegal practices that they’ve been doing to try to increase diversity … basically treating people differently based on what their race or gender are.” Damore, however, is a white male, so his analysis was immediately deemed a “sexist screed” and an “anti-diversity memo” by the mainstream media.

But his dismissal has encouraged other whistleblowers to speak out (anonymously) about Google’s hard-left monoculture, its politically correct atmosphere and the draconian measures being used to enforce its unwritten code of groupthink. One of those who spoke out, “Gordon,” claimed, “Google is run like a religious cult. Conform and carry out the rituals, and you’ll be rewarded and praised; ask any uncomfortable questions or offend the wrong people, and the threats and public shaming will be swift and ruthless. The religion in this case is a kind of intersectional feminism, its central tenets are Diversity and Inclusion, its demonic enemy is Bias, and its purifying rituals include humiliating forms of ‘training’ that resemble Maoist struggle sessions.” Gordon also noted the company’s bizarre reaction to Donald Trump’s electoral victory: “After the 2016 election, we had an entire TGIF (Friday meeting) dedicated to the election result, in which several of our top management gave emotional speeches as though the world was going to end, and [they] seemed to be on the verge of tears. It was embarrassing.”

Another employee, who goes by “Hal,” added, “A lot of social justice activists essentially spend all day fighting the culture war, and get nothing done. The company has made it a point to hire more people like this. The diversity gospel has been woven into nearly everything the company does, to the point where senior leaders focus on diversity first and technology second. The companywide ‘Google Insider’ emails used to talk about cool new tech, but now they’re entirely about social justice initiatives. Likewise, the weekly all-hands ‘TGIF’ meetings used to focus on tech, but now they’re split about 50/50 between tech and identity politics signaling. For conservative employees, this is obviously demoralizing, but it is also dangerous. Several have been driven out of the company or fired outright for sharing a dissenting view.” Hal also spoke about “massive witch hunts” whereby hordes of Google’s social justice warriors target those colleagues who run afoul of the corporate narrative.

Yet there is a nuanced argument here beyond the tired anthem of creating a “diverse” workplace. Like most businesses, Google operates as an “at-will” employer, meaning that the company is perfectly within its rights to dismiss Damore for writing and distributing his memo, or anyone else for numerous “offenses.”

Any libertarian worth his salt would contend that Damore knew the risk he was taking by going against the corporate grain, but as Reason’s Nick Gillespie argues, “There should be no question that [Google] has the right to fire people. If a company does that consistently for arbitrary and unconvincing reasons (ranging from enforcing ideological consistency in non-ideological organizations to erratic management to whatever), it will have huge trouble attracting and keeping talent. But in a free society, every company should have the right to put itself out of business through bad management practices.” Gillespie goes on to warn us that Google provides a prime example of how intolerance of free expression isn’t limited to the public realm, such as public schools or the university campus.

Google is guilty of another troubling bit of totalitarianism. A few years back, the Internet giant meekly rolled over rather than deal resolutely with the communist Chinese government — ceding a market to competitors who allow that police state to monitor and crack down on signs of dissent among its populace. On the other hand, the company styles itself as a guardian of free expression and staunch opponent of government intrusion here in the U.S. Damore’s firing indicates the corporate culture is far closer to communism than capitalism.

The problem with Google and every other left-leaning champion of “diversity” is that they view the concept almost exclusively as a set of physical characteristics (with the fairly recent exceptions of same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria, which are behavioral and mental). But in Google’s world, diversity doesn’t include characteristics such as being Christian, being politically or socially conservative, and so forth. Of course, the exclusion of these ideas and attitudes leaves Google’s world far less diverse.

Google is a vast workplace, with employees coming from every corner of the earth. So why is the company trying to put them all in a homogenous box? Google’s drive for selective diversity may well be what Gillespie calls a “bad management practice.” Here’s hoping Google can come to its senses and James Damore can pick up the pieces after having boldly expressed what so many of us are witnessing in the workplace.

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