From Recode, the first purportedly inside account of who was behind firing coder James Damore for crimethink:
As it turned out, the meeting wasn’t hard at all because Pinchai cancelled it.
Pichai’s management team did not at first agree on what to do.
BY KARA SWISHER @KARASWISHER AUG 10, 2017, 1:00PM
Let’s all assume Google CEO Sundar Pichai has a really hard day ahead of him.
That’s because at 4 pm PT, the tech giant will hold an all-hands meeting to discuss the firing of James Damore and the controversial internal memo he wrote about women and their biological weaknesses related to tech that got him canned from the company. …
Pichai made the final decision about Damore’s fate, after what several sources with knowledge of the meeting characterized as a tough debate by top management, with initial disagreement over how to handle the situation. …
According to those familiar with the discussion, his dozen direct reports whom he consulted were initially at odds about what to do about Google’s continual and complex balancing act between free speech and fostering a safe workplace.
“Just like all of Google is struggling with this, we were not unanimous at first about whether what [Damore] wrote merited firing, although we all came around to it,” said one top exec. “But Sundar had to make a call about what kind of Google he wanted to stress and he did.”
Others familiar with the meeting said it centered on how much latitude employees should have to express their opinions — one of the central tenets of Google since its founding — versus creating a culture that is trying to become attractive and safe to a broader range of people.
“I think the problem and also benefit of Google has been that we’ve created and encouraged an environment where everyone thinks they can say what they want, because that is what has always been the way it has been,” said another top exec. “But, at some point, if we really want to change, we have to think harder about what impact that has, especially when it makes women or others feel unsafe in the environment we have created.”
So this is all tied into the paranoid delusions over Safe Spaces and wearing Safety Pins after Trump’s election.
It’s a split reflected at the very top of Google’s owner, Alphabet, where its top lawyer, David Drummond, has been one of the most vocal advocates of free speech over the years. As an Alphabet exec, he was not part of Monday’s decision-making meeting.
Meanwhile, another longtime Google leader, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who was at the meeting, penned her own essay that appeared in Fortune this week, with an opposite take.
“While people may have a right to express their beliefs in public, that does not mean companies cannot take action when women are subjected to comments that perpetuate negative stereotypes about them based on their gender,” she wrote. “Every day, companies take action against employees who make unlawful statements about co-workers, or create hostile work environments.” …
In fact, Damore posted the essay earlier in one of Google’s smaller discussion platforms — not one like its massive “eng-misc” one — before it bubbled up this past weekend and was finally noticed by top execs.
Alerted to it, sources said Pichai then started off gathering opinions from his direct reports — such as Wojcicki, HR head Eileen Naughton, top lawyer Kent Walker, cloud leader Diane Greene, communications head Jessica Powell and business head Philipp Schindler. Not all were physically present at Google’s Silicon Valley HQ, where the group debated the issue, and were at first split.
“It was a cordial discussion, considering the topic, and you could see how you could argue both sides on the face of it,” said one source. “But I think Damore’s focus on biology really made it clear that he had crossed the line.”
What turned the tide, said sources, was when it was noted that if Damore’s dubious contentions about women’s skills were replaced by those about race or religion, there would be no debate.
In fact, Wojcicki said as much in her essay:
“For instance, what if we replaced the word ‘women’ in the memo with another group? What if the memo said that biological differences amongst Black, Hispanic, or LGBTQ employees explained their underrepresentation in tech and leadership roles? Would some people still be discussing the merit of the memo’s arguments or would there be a universal call for swift action against its author? I don’t ask this to compare one group to another, but rather to point out that the language of discrimination can take many different forms and none are acceptable or productive.” …
So it sounds as if Wojcicki was, at least according to Swisher’s initial reporting, the winner in this internal power struggle.
Said one flatly: “He cannot spew his dubious biology arguments — you can find any study to justify any crazy notion — and not pay a price for it.”
Pichai wrote to employees on Monday and said as much, but much more politely: “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”
As I mentioned yesterday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who remains deeply resentful of any time her abilities have been questioned during her lucrative career, is the former sister-in-law of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
After all, if we don’t shut this kind of talk down right now, some punk bastard might even mention … nepotism!