So he got typing, penning an anonymous critique of his employer’s D&I policies while also outlining the real reason why the gender pay gap exists.
The document, called ‘Google ideological Echo Chamber’ urges Google to quit “alienating conservatives” and questions the relevance of unconscious bias training. The author says the company needs to stop assuming gender pay gaps are a matter of sexism.
While the identity of the cranky Googler has not been revealed, he apparently reports to Google VP Ari Balogh.
I had a read over the document, not expecting to be particularly surprised by its contents.
I’ve heard variations of such opinions regarding how unfair the competitive job market is getting for men — how the meritocracy is under threat as people who aren’t really supposed to be included are given opportunities, or at least a little bit of help. True, such opinions are not usually written down in plain text, but I come up against them all the time during random encounters — a man sitting next to me on a plane, opposite me at a client dinner, even in a playground once — especially when they learn about the publication I run, Women’s Agenda.
They are usually off-hand remarks, made by an individual who is unlikely to see me again, who has little-to-no knowledge of stats regarding the gender pay gap and women in leadership — and is not willing, or able, to openly air such views in front of their employer.
So it’s not hard to see how the Google manifesto might provide some rare insight into opinions brewing in organisations that have specific programs in place to try and attract and promote more women.
One senior Google employee has told Motherboard that “more people have been agreeing with it [the document] than I would like”, while Motherboard also claims an anonymous internal chatline for Google employees includes comments commending the man’s bravery (despite the fact he neglected to pen his name to the piece).
The document’s author claims to “strongly believe” in diversity, but says Google’s created discriminatory practices in order to achieve it, such as mentoring for certain groups, priority queues for diversity candidates, and hiring practices that lower the bar.
He notes that humans are “generally biased towards protecting females” and that there are extensive Google programs, government programs and legal and social norms aimed at protecting women. “But when a man complains about a gender issue [sic] affecting men, he’s labelled a misogynist and whiner. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression.”
The author, who wants to make it especially clear that he doesn’t think “diversity is bad”, goes on to make a number of helpful suggestions including to “de-moralize diversity” and to have “an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.” On the latter, he says that discriminating to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as it would be to mandate an increase in women’s representation in the homeless, as well as amongst work-related and violent deaths, in prisons and school dropouts (up there with the ‘but men go to war’ argument against feminism).
He also criticises empathetic approaches, noting that “being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts”.
Interestingly, the document doesn’t have much to say about the current stats on diversity at Google, where the latest figures show women make up just 20% of tech employees, and 25% of leadership roles. Less than 5% of new roles went to black, Hispanic or Latina candidates in 2016.
Google’s VP of Diversity, integrity & Governance has responded to the document in a memo to staff, noting that she believes the document advanced incorrect assumptions about gender, and that “diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate”.
She said D&I is critical to the company’s success and that Google has taken a strong stance on the issue by releasing its demographic data.
Correction: A note in our newsletter pointing to this story incorrectly stated that “many men at Google agree”. That is not what this piece intends to imply. Women’s Agenda apologises for the error in our newsletter.