Why are there more men in the technology industry than women? Are men hard-wired to be better engineers? Why are there more men as CEOs than women? Are men hard-wired to be better leaders?
Conversely, I could ask why are there more stay-at-home moms and housewives than men? Why are there more women elementary school teachers in the U.S. than men? Why do women fill more subservient positions in business than men?
Those are valid questions that will bring a variety of answers and perhaps more than a few arguments. If technology companies, including Apple and Google, always want to hire the best employees are they always getting the best if most employees are men?
And, what does the status quo tell us about efforts to diversify the workplace?
Google engineer James Damore wrote a lengthy memo entitled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.
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… 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.
Echo chamber? Yes. It’s a disease which afflicts most of mankind. Damore simply pointed out the obvious.
Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies.
That cost him his job.
Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber.
In other words, Google’s executives did not want to appear biased (we’re human; we’re all biased) but displayed their bias by firing an engineer who was daring enough to publicize the bias.
For those still working at Google who may agree with Damore you can be sure they’re not publicizing their personal position or agreement on the issue.
We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life. Status is the primary metric that men are judged on, pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail.
One could argue that Google’s U.S. employment shows a deep bias for caucasians and asians. 56-percent for the former, 35-percent for the latter. That leaves hispanics, blacks, multi-racial, and others in a very distinct minority. Why? Is it because Google’s hiring practices are solely aimed at getting the best qualified person for the job? Or, is it because Google’s hiring practices are merely a reflection of those already in a position to hire?
What about Apple?
Our favorite iPhone maker has similar problems although CEO Tim Cook, himself a minority figure, seems to recognize the need to do more to diversity Apple’s workplace. Recent product presentations have women and other minorities on stage showing off Apple’s latest and greatest. Yes, that trend should continue.
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai:
First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects ‘each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.
Yet, Damore’s dismissal could be considered intimidation and shows support for discrimination.