Google Diversity Training, Aimed At Reducing Bias, Backfires In Case Of Fired Engineer

By David Pierson and Tracey Lien
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Former Google employee James Damore said he wrote a memo accusing Google of resorting to discriminatory practices in its quest to diversify its workforce to clarify his thoughts after Google’s diversity and bias training program.

Los Angeles Times

Former Google employee James Damore was supposed to come away enlightened by his diversity training, armed with a newfound sense of empathy for colleagues who did not look like him, a white male.

Instead, the software engineer was so enraged by the experience he decided to write a now-infamous 3,000-word memo on a flight to China railing against Google’s “ideological echo chamber” and arguing that women land fewer tech jobs because of biological differences.

“I went to a diversity program at Google and … I heard things that I definitely disagreed with,” Damore, 28, told Stefan Molyneux, a libertarian podcaster and author. Damore said he had some conversations at the program, but “there was a lot of, just, shaming, ‘No, you can’t say that, that’s sexist’; ‘You can’t do this.’… There’s just so much hypocrisy in a lot of the things that they’re saying.”

Damore’s words were disavowed by Google and rejected by those who believe women possess the same qualities as men to succeed in the tech world, an industry that has sparked no shortage of controversy over its treatment of women and inclusion of minorities.

But Damore’s bitter reaction raises questions about the effectiveness of diversity and bias training, a tool companies and other organizations have adopted to prevent hostility in the workplace, and in Google’s case, to promote the hiring and retention of more women and minorities.

Researchers remain divided on its usefulness, but organizations may have no better option to attempt to shift company culture, establish behavioral guidelines and address the legal risk of a hostile work environment.

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