Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A slightly broader view of the Google lynching of their outspoken, free thinking employee.

Many commentators have characterized this as a typical example of SJW's run amok, or as Progressive Puritans/Totalitarians doing their normal thing of crushing some poor chap who's just trying to do his job and exercise his right to point out injustice and foolishness.  I think there's a bit more to the story.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company’s diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley. 
James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He said he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

For reference, Mr. Damore's memo is here.
But, Google's issue as a company is bigger than simple squashing the politically unpopular opinion of one employee.
From the article linked above we learn that the memo and surrounding debate comes as Google fends off a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Labor alleging the company systemically discriminates against women. Google has denied the charges, arguing that it doesn’t have a gender gap in pay, but has declined to share full salary information with the government. According to the company’s most recent demographic report, 69 percent of its workforce and 80 percent of its technical staff are male.
So, the problem really began when the government sued the company for gender discrimination.  Now, I don't know the details of the Dept. of Labor's suit, but I'd wager serious bitcoin that the government's argument is that a statistically significant difference in gender beyond the population in general is evidence per se of discrimination.  This standard makes the suit almost impossible to defend, and puts Google on the hook for huge legal exposure, since  they are guilty simply because their work force favors one gender or another.  
Reacting as any bureaucracy run by penny pinching cowards would, they've created an internal department dedicated to addressing the issue of gender.  Very helpful in the lawsuit, but disastrous for the company's need to focus on their business.  Whether they hire all men, or all women, or some combination is irrelevant to their business, but not to the government head counters and their need to keep their legal departments busy by suing someone.  
Google's new commissar of diversity and litigation protection put in her two cents (of course, it's a her - looks really good to the jury if it's a her) on the controversy.
After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google’s new vice president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore’s views and reaffirmed the company’s stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News.
“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” Brown said in the statement. “We’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”
Why not just hire people based on their talent and their desire to work for your company? Isn't that more critical to the success of your company, Danielle?
So before this current issue developed, Google was being harassed by the government based on legal standards that would require their guilt be found if they simply had more of one gender than the ratio common in the general population.   How very Soviet.
Reacting in the only way big risk averse institutions know how, they catered to the government's demands, hiring a useless, victim creating director whose only job is to hassle people based on a characteristic they cannot control.  Too many men in your department?  Your career is at risk if you are a man, no matter how good of a job you do.  That value you add to the company through your diligent labor is far offset by the cost of litigation with the government based on illogical standards that are virtually impossible to live up to if your goal is to hire on merit.
Business crippling, either way.   The only solution I can see is for congress to pass a law setting a standard on this issue based on logic and good science, or better yet, simply making such harassing litigation impossible through an immunity.
For example, the law could state that as long as a company can show gender blind hiring, they are immune from being sued on this ground.  That would still allow legitimate litigation when a bad company really does discriminate based on gender, but give an easy and fair way to protect against such allegations if they are unfounded.  Maybe make the plaintiff liable for litigation costs if their suit is dismissed on summary judgement prior to trial, as a disincentive for frivolous complaints.
The bigger picture here is that the initiator of this mess is in fact the Department of Labor, who sued Google, and thus made the company hyper sensitive to such allegations and caused them to overreact, as could be expected, I suppose. 
Then, when an employee pointed out the foolishness and blindness inherent in the whole situation, Google overreacted once again by firing him.  Certainly, I believe the managers at the company, finding themselves presented with the arguments in the man's memo, felt cornered into terminating him.  Surely he will sue, but if they didn't fire him, they'd be creating even more litigation in the future, with both the government and from other employees, while handing their legal opponents fat evidentiary gifts to help them in their claims.  
It's the classic slippery slope.   Instead of courageously fighting the initial government lawsuit, they cowered behind their desks, and once cowering and kowtowing to the government's allegations, they backed themselves blindly into their current conundrum.  
Now, it's just a question of how many people will be suing Google, and how much money they'll have to spend to defend themselves and pay out in settlements.
And that's money and manpower they won't be spending on making a better product or thinking up the next big thing.
That's why this is so big of a problem for all of us, not just for Google and Mr. Damore.  And no surprise, it has all generated out of a government lawsuit and the pearl clutching church ladies who demanded everyone conform to their twisted ideology of "equality."

And of course, we have to end with Orwell's two minutes of hate, where, in a rage, all Google employees scream Damore's name.


  1. What about those with a penis that identify as a woman? This is California after all.

  2. Wait until they get around to noticing that only 2% of Google's overall workforce is black (and that drops to 1% for the "tech" workforce). Further note that 35% overall and 39% tech employees are Asian.

    But we're carefully not gonna notice that 74.4% of NBA players are black, while only 0.2% are Asian (according the Wikipedia, at least).

    1. 100% of the top 100 ranked chess players in the world are men ( for now ). ???

  3. You cannot win in this sort of environment. Hiring at places like google are not done by some sort of test or balanced weighing of individual candidate's merits. People are hired there, just like most everywhere else, by a project manager having an open need and getting a reccomendation from a trusted colleague or superior and filling it with that one. Or, a project scientist has an opening and hire's a good person he/she worked with at last job or in school. HR, as some sort of hiring tsar is nonsense.
    The court has to see beyond the polity numbers of America and look into how many people of each race/gender graduate from the right schools with the right degrees and the right recommendations. It's not enough to say that 14% must be black because the existing numbers don't support that. There are not enough people of the various categories to plug into all the jobs companies and industries have that need to get their numbers up.

    I'm surprised more tech companies don't simply move offshore and leave the US DOJ and Labor Department behind.

    1. Government needs to go back to supporting hiring solely by merit. Let the chips fall where they may, and people will just sort themselves out as they want, and ignore the utopian pipe dreams of how they ought to do it.

  4. Would it then follow that every male in the U.S. could sue the government because the military discriminates against men in the unequal representation in the Selective Service and military obligation? One must follow the other.