HR News Articles

A memo to Google – firing employees with conservative views is anti-diversity

Akshaya Kamalnath, Deakin University

Google’s recent sacking of James Damore for circulating a memo will do the tech giant more harm than good. Not only has the memo been incorrectly dubbed “anti-diversity”, but a majority of Google employees surveyed in a recent poll disagreed with the decision to fire Damore.


A more productive response to the memo would have been to setup an official channel for employees to air these kinds of issues. This way employees feel their views are heard and the company can take into account different points of view while formulating policy.




Read more: What the Google gender ‘manifesto’ really says about Silicon Valley




Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, wrote to all Google employees saying that Damore’s memo had crossed the line by “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in the workplace”. It might have been more advantageous to have a full and frank discussion of Google’s diversity policies and what they are intended to achieve.


Is it too dangerous to talk about diversity?


Although painted as “anti-diversity”, the memo itself raises issues of the alienation of conservative views at Google and the need to be able to discuss diversity more openly. In other words, diversity shouldn’t be a concept that people are scared to discuss openly for fear of being vilified or shamed.


Damore’s memo suggests that those with differing views on diversity are dismissed and vilified. The response to his memo seems to prove his point. This might in fact be the heart of the problem - fear of saying something politically incorrect might in fact be holding people back from understanding the need for diversity measures.


One study found that American corporate directors thought board diversity (in racial, ethnic and gender terms) was an important goal worth pursuing. But they seemed unable to substantiate this opinion with examples of how board diversity might help the company. The authors of the study concluded that diversity seemed to be a “dangerous” subject to talk about.


Shutting down differing views on the matter is antithetical to the idea of diversity. “Inner diversity”, meaning diversity of viewpoints and opinions, is as important as “outer diversity”, in terms of gender and ethnicity etc.


A Canadian report on women on company boards found that boards with more women surpass all male boards in their attention to audit and risk oversight and control. It also highlights that outer diversity (such as having more women on the board) is a proxy for inner diversity - it is a sign of different “gifts, skills, experiences, and perspectives”. If a company focuses singularly on outer diversity while discouraging diverse viewpoints it won’t realise the real benefits of diversity in the first place.


Rationales for diversity


The rationale for measures promoting diversity is twofold. Women and minority groups have to overcome many barriers including selection bias while being recruited. And diversity, particularly in problem-solving groups, is ultimately good for business.


Diversity measures seek to reduce (if not eliminate) biases by expanding or diversifying the pool of candidates being considered for each position. For example, programs where female candidates are given mentors opens up new opportunities.


Damore’s memo argues the biological differences between men and women might be one of the reasons for the low number of women in the tech industry. However, recent neuroscience research shows there is not enough evidence to conclude that there are significant differences in the male and female brain. So while Damore’s view is not unequivocal, this perception could impede the effectiveness of diversity measures.


Other research shows that more men than women study computer science, engineering, physics and mathematics in the US. This could account for some of the gender disparity in tech companies. However, this is not true in all countries.


For instance, women make up nearly half of computer science and computer engineering students in India. It might be interesting to study what factors deter women in the US from studying these subjects.


But in order to address these issues it is necessary to be able to discuss them, and then assess what a diversity policy is intended to fix. To that end, companies must create forums and events to discuss the rationales for diversity policies and also allow employees to voice their views in this regard.


The ConversationA starting point could be to have employees fill out anonymous surveys to gauge perception of diversity policies. Based on this, appropriate discussions can be encouraged. Companies could also consider making the rationale for the diversity policy available along with the policy itself. This process will result in more informed policy choices and perhaps a more inclusive work culture.


Akshaya Kamalnath, Lecturer, Deakin University


This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Jobs Just For You, The HR Professional

Our weekly or daily email bulletins are guaranteed to contain only fresh employment opportunities


More info

Latest Jobs

Risk Business Partner - Contract
Western Australia

Talent Acquisition Specialist
New South Wales

HR Adviser
New South Wales

HR Analyst
New South Wales

Internal Recruiter - Contract
New South Wales

Recruitment Administrator
New South Wales

Recruitment Advisor - Contract
New South Wales

Organisation Development Manager
New South Wales

HR Manager - Permanent Part Time
Victoria

L&D Specialist - online learning
New South Wales

Work Health & Safety Officer - Contract
Victoria

HR Manager
New South Wales

HR Coordinator - Contract
Western Australia

Organisational Development Consultant - Permanent
Victoria

Recruitment Advisor - contract
New South Wales

HR Coordinator - Contract
New South Wales

Recruitment Officer - Contract
New South Wales

Change Consultant
Victoria

Recruitment Coordinator
New South Wales

HR Generalist - Contract
New South Wales

Human Resources Consultant
Queensland

Senior Industrial Officer - Contract
Western Australia

Manager People & Performance
New South Wales

EL1 WHS Specialist - Contract
Australian Capital Territory

Safety, Wellness & Compliance Adviser - Contract
Western Australia

WHS Manager
New South Wales

HR Coordinator
Victoria

HR Coordinator
Queensland

HR Coordinator - Contract
New South Wales

HR Advisor - Contract
Western Australia

Human Resources Officer - Contract
Western Australia

Head of Learning & OD Consulting
Victoria

Remuneration Analyst contract - until end of March
New South Wales

Senior HR Advisor
Western Australia

People & Culture Manager
Victoria

Head of Culture & Inclusion
Victoria

Rostering Coordinator - Contract
Queensland

Talent Acquisition Advisor - Contract
New South Wales

HR Officer - Contract - Part Time
Victoria

HR Business Partner
Victoria

Technical Recruitment Advisor
Western Australia

People & Culture Partner - Part Time
Victoria

L&D Consultant - Contract
Victoria

Senior Learning Consultant
New South Wales

HR Manager, People & Culture
New South Wales

Manager HR Risk & Compliance
North Island

HR Project Manager - Contract
New South Wales

HR Business Partner
New South Wales

Organisational Development Manager - Contract - Part Time
New South Wales

Payroll Team Leader
Queensland

Remuneration & Benefits Manager
New South Wales

Senior Talent Recruitment Partner - Financial Services
New South Wales

HR Advisor - Contract
New South Wales

HR Business Partner
New South Wales

HR Administrator
New South Wales

Internal Recruitment Officer
New South Wales

HR Business Partner - Contract
New South Wales

HR and Recruitment Officer
New South Wales

Human Resources Manager - Permanent Part time
Victoria

Talent Specialist - Contract
Victoria

Internal Recruiter - Contract
Victoria

Recruitment Consultant
New South Wales

HR Business Partner - Contract
Queensland

Talent Acquisition Advisor - Part time
Queensland

Group Manager, Case Management
New South Wales

Workforce Planner - Contact Centre
Victoria

HR Manager - Contract
Victoria

People & Culture Business Partner
New South Wales

HR Business Partner (6 month contract with potential to go perm)
New South Wales

HR Business Partner - Employee and Industrial Relations - Contract
Victoria

Senior HR Advisor/HRBP (Professional Services)
New South Wales

Employee Relations Manager
New South Wales

Injury Management Advisor - Contract
Queensland

HR Business Partner - 12 month contract
Queensland

Head of Organisational Development
Victoria

HR Specialist - 6 month contract
New South Wales

Senior Consultant Health and Wellbeing - Contract
Queensland

Internal Recruiter
New South Wales

Remuneration Specialist
New South Wales

Senior HR Project Manager
New South Wales

Browse All Jobs