Dueling Google Memos Reveal A Culture War

-By Sam B | [email protected]

As reported last week, Google banned a Canadian professor only to reinstate him in the same week. Yesterday, another article was posted showing two dueling Google memos that may explain why someone could be banned and unbanned in the same week. The internal Google memo by a senior software engineer said the following:

  • Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
  • This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
  • The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
  • Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
  • Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
  • Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.

  • The employee also pointed out discrimination at Google:

  • Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race
  • A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
  • Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
  • Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
  • Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination
  • The employee said that the company should stop alienating conservatives.

    Google's Danielle Brown responded and said "those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions (6). But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment (7)." Gideon Lichfield, at Quartz Media, said "there is something frankly Orwellian about making a promise to safeguard free speech (6) while constraining it within boundaries (7) that in fact have nothing to do with speech." Gideon added "The engineer’s complaint is not that there is no place for him to express his views, but rather that the company makes people who express them feel unwelcome."

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