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Ex-Google Employee's Memo Says Executives Shut Down Pro-Diversity Discussions (gizmodo.com)
114 points by MBCook 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments





Google is in a tough spot with this.

On the one hand they sincerely want to increase diversity because increasing the pool of candidates means there are more candidates to choose from. Also, having more women see technology as a career path is a good thing for the American workforce --it strengthens it.

On the other hand, there are some who then see this initiative to begin their crusades for diversity in their vision. That is, it ends being a means to enrich the pool of applicants but rather a means to play favorites and push agendas. That's to say Google wants to increase women in the workforce but they do not want to make men "unwanted".

I have known people there and I am told that the generalities that we hear that conservatives tend to stay quiet and that one side of the political spectrum in encouraged while the other is shunned is true.

Beside that, this person left voluntarily, they did not get fired despite their attempts to re-start contentious conversations management had sought to regain control over.

By the way, overlooked in all this is the overrepresentation of non-American citizens in the companies, with respect to wanting the companies to reflect the Am pop at large. And, who cares about that stat. I mean, they contribute a whole hell of a lot. Yet, you see, people only care about _their_ interpretation of what is acceptable diversity and unacceptable diversity figures.


[flagged]


I think you mean quotas. And the method you suggest is probably the worst way of achieving diversity, there are others. Perceiving white males to be hard done by is amusing.

Perceiving white males to be hard done by is amusing.

Here’s what you don’t get: none of these groups are homogeneous. It is perfectly plausible for a “white male” manager to discriminate against a white male Worker if that manager is incentivised to do so, either explicitly or implicitly. I mention in another comment an example of Google systematically attempting to disempower Workers (for which members of the boss class gave those bosses a mere slap on the wrist)

Class trumps race, gender, age, anything else when analysing anything from a company to an entire country.


Boardroom gender quotas are being adopted by more and more countries. There's little evidence that this has proved harmful, modest evidence that it has helped company performance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_representation_on_corpo...


haven't you read manifesto? that's wtf is going on there, white male can't get a job if quota for colored and women is not filled

You think Google is going to just let work go un-done because they don't have a diverse candidate in the role?

[flagged]


It's Google, there are literally thousands of open heads at any time. If the white guy passed the hiring bar, they'd hire the woman, the "colored" as you put it, AND the white guy.

Then they'd offer them recruiting bonuses if any of their friends were good recruiting leads.


I’m not sure which of the colours is a problem for you but Google is 69% male and 59% white. Their stats don’t support your claim. https://diversity.google/commitments/

[dead]


If Damore was belittled, it was because he was obviously too daft to know how to keep a job in Silicon Valley.

It turns out they send you to these handy classes so you know all the rules that let you stay employed. And they send you over and over again, because (as Damore proves), some of their employees are slow learners.


Is this reply intended for a different comment?

> the overrepresentation of non-American citizens in the companies, with respect to wanting the companies to reflect the pop at large

Or underrepresentation, depending on whether you're talking about the US pop or world pop. Or the population of countries where Google is not firewalled, and hence is the dominant gateway to the internet there.


No one ever, ever talks about int'l workforce representation at Toyota or Lexus or Huawei, or Samsung, or Kubota, or you know Petroleum from the ME. Never. This is only brought up as a distraction from the fact that they are overrepresented with respect to their numbers in America and as participants in the American workforce.

Aside from that, it's no country's responsibility to provide gainful employment to non-nationals.


No one ever has, doesn't mean no one ever should.

Interesting... So, you know, you mean Google should hire representatively for Texas, Florida, Indiana, etc., cuz you know, their workforce should represent essentially "their customer base". And while they are at it, why not make them hire representatively amongst conservatives and liberals?

I don't think anyone expects a company to hire differently than the population of their location.

Offices in Japan will be mostly Japanese, offices in England will be mostly English, offices in India will be mostly Indian, etc.


Yes (Japan), most definitely not (England), yes (India).

Assumes we are talking about tech of course, England has more diversity than the USA in that area, especially in London.


Not sure what you mean.

England is 91% white, 5% Asian, 4% other. I would expect workforces in England to follow those trends.

London is 60% white, 13% black, 7% Asian, 7% Indian, 13% other. I would expect workforces in London to follow those trends.

That anyone would expect a workforce to reflect world numbers rather than local ones is very odd.


OP said English, not white. From a nationality point of view London is one of the most diverse places around.

Parent said English. Also, tech != everything else. Tech workforces don't necessarily follow the demographics of the places where they are located.

> Or the population of countries where Google is not firewalled, and hence is the dominant gateway to the internet there.

I'm sure Google has many Chinese employees as well.


When you try to emulate a college environment and change work from a job to a lifestyle this seems to be what happens. People want to change their environment to reflect their values. Engineers especially. Both this guy and Damore seem to have sincerely good intentions, and if Google really was a college campus, their discussions might work but they're just incompatible with the reality of a workplace as-is.

This is a good point. I live on the East Coast and have never worked for Google, so I hadn't considered how the work environment and their unique company culture might have been significant factors.

There's just not that many (if any) companies here which have taken such a radical approach (I mean this in the most positive sense) to intentionally crafting a company culture so focused on employee satisfaction and retention.

But, I hadn't thought about how those features which seem like extraordinary perks from the outside--like, no-charge gourmet meals on campus, on-site laundry, and a college-environment, might transform the culture in totally unanticipated ways.

Anyway, oddly enough (now that I think about it), the Navy was remarkably similar in their approach: they did provide a "campus" (ship), with no charge ~~gourmet meals~~ chow, on-site laundry, and pretty good security. ;)


College parties is where these conversations happened. Not in math or database classes. Converse all you want with your peers off the clock and off record if you truly want to emulate college

Google and workplaces in general are in a very tough spot here. "Diversity & Inclusion" are grenades in the current political environment and more often than not any discussion in a non monolithic setting where ideas from both sides will be argued (ie. a large multinational) will probably end up with mudslinging and fire throwing. I've seen it within my own companies forums and I have no doubt this was going on at Google. I definitely understand where HR and senior executives where coming from, I'm sure more than one post went off the fucking rails.

I'm all for diversity & inclusion within the work place but in general I would suggest companies do it in a more "covert" manner -- reach out to HBCUs, re-evaluate your interview process, talk to your employees who are "underrepresented minorities" to see how they feel about working for you. In general I think a lot of companies are simply inviting too much scrutiny by plastering diversity on the walls and screaming to high heavens.. press releases and chief diversity officers will not make you a more diverse company.


chief diversity officers will make a corporation more diverse - that is their job. companies that do PR around their diversity are not doing it right - D&I is an industry competitive advantage. The most diverse organizations in the Fortune 1000 outperform their industry median financial returns by 35%. I agree the 'covert' manner works but the role of chief diversity officers is critical to the macroeconomic impact of globalizing and increasing market representation in our modern workforces.

Correlation isn't causation. I'm not saying that diversity is bad, but if the most diverse of the fortune 500 did outperform others, diversity as a direct cause of this is what I'd like to see evidence of. Many other factors might have contributed to their better performance, one could attribute one of those to be the cause?

Even further to that, what do these companies DO. I doubt that BHP Billiton - or many petro-chemical companies - have a lot of diversity. I bet Wallmart does - especially minority hires.

And what even is diversity? Google employs a lot of Indians - both in India and the USA - and that helps diversity along all lines - racial, gender as India doesn't have the same gender tech bias as the west. Is that AMERICAN diversity? Using BS numbers, if US born employees are 90-10 men to women, but overall it is 70-30, then the best means of increasing diversity could be more foreign hires. Does that benefit who people are hoping it does?

I'm not for or against any position here, it is just that the history of measures like this is to use euphemistic "statistics", aka "lying with numbers". If companies can find a way to manipulate the numbers - consultants instead of employees, inhousing female dominated positions etc - then this will be easily doable. In fact, I think I might start a consultancy in just that :)


I find it more plausible that a diverse workforce and market success are both effects of a good company culture, good hiring practices etc. than suggesting that diversity somehow causes success.

Not least because seeing diversity as a causal factor seems to imply that a person's skillset is somehow linked to their gender/race (or whichever diversity criteria is in play), and hence that a diverse workforce leads to a broader skillset.


I think it is curious that CDOs exist as distinct from the Head of HR position. How does that work on the org chart, are they peers or who reports to who?

Chief Diversity Officers (CDO) might make corporations superficially diverse, in a purely demographic sense.

But I'd argue that it's not so easy to make a company truly diverse--in the sense that people are friendly (or at least congenial on a professional level), equally respectful of each other, and able to hold and tolerate varying/conflicting perspectives without respectfully, without animosity.

That makes for a truly enjoyable place to work, if you can find a company with such a culture. But it's much more rare than one might hope. It's just not human nature to treat each other that well, in general, by default.

In my (admittedly limited) experience, it takes truly gifted/talented/experienced leaders, and they must cultivate a culture like that from the top down. It just isn't likely to evolve organically, without guidance.

Sad, but true, I think.

Anyway, companies that do succeed in that regard tend to be extraordinarily successful.

I once had a really incredibly great boss. He went to Georgetown, was very sharp and was an exceedingly shrewd business tactician, so that certainly helped. But this company succeeded in a way that seemed so effortless, in comparison with other less pleasant places I've worked.

It was a team effort; we had several developers who were very good at their jobs, so I certainly wouldn't attribute our success to anyone person. But I do really believe the way this guy treated us and motivated us the critical factor.


> The post also pointed to an external blog post written by a Googler that stated, “Blacks are not equal to whites.”

Here's what Altheide’s document quotes a "Googler" as writing on an external blog:

> Blacks are not equal to whites. Therefore the “inequality” between these races is expected and makes perfect sense. (This also explains why progressives are unable to come up with a black martyr who was not killed while committing a crime.)

Was this really written by someone who works for Google?

> “As far as I can tell Urs is of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ school with regards to diversity topics,” he added. “This is best summed up by him saying ‘if the majority of your coworkers are Nazis, it is better if you don’t know about it’ because productivity.” Altheide wrote that he remembered the quote verbatim, and told Gizmodo that he was so struck by the comparison that he jotted it down after the meeting.

That's also quite an accusation. Are there any other reports of Urs saying anything in that ballpark of crazy?

edit: clarification


> This also explains why progressives are unable to come up with a black martyr who was not killed while committing a crime.

That's just braindead. Not that it's necessary to point out the falsehood of a quote so obviously motivated by hate and bereft of truth, but...

Vernon Dahmer offered to pay the $2 poll tax for those who could not afford it. His home was doused in gasoline and set on fire, and he died a few hours later as a result. I guess sleeping in your own house is a crime.

Harry Moore and his wife Harriette were killed by a bomb detonated directly below their bedroom on Christmas. I guess Christmas is illegal.


To play a little devil's advocate, while he didn't specifically say this, I think he was referring to police shootings.

Interestingly enough Walter Scott was killed less than a month after he posted this. Someone I'd argue could be a bit of a martyr. While he had committed a crime, it still wasn't justifiable in any sense. Of course, the offending officer was also convicted to 20 years in prison.


That's not crazy - Urs is just saying "don't talk about politics at work" which is a rule Google could apparently use a lot more of, given the things coming out in the Damore lawsuit. His second statement was almost certainly a response to someone saying "but muh coworkers are nazzzzzzis" and rather than argue with this self-evidently stupid statement, he pointed out that if this were true, ignorance would be bliss. But of course he thinks it's not true.

Yeah, that second statement Urs made really didn't seem like it should be taken at face value, especially without understanding its original context.

> Was this really written by someone who works for Google?

Yes: https://wasarchived.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/brief-introduct... The other posts on the blog makes it clear that the person authoring the post worked at Google.


> Blacks are not equal to whites. Therefore the “inequality” between these races is expected and makes perfect sense. (This also explains why progressives are unable to come up with a black martyr who was not killed while committing a crime.)

I'm about to step into a minefield here, but whatever.

So the black martyr thing I don't really care to touch since that's pretty unrelated to the other statement of inequality between races.

It seems you are calling that statement crazy. If it makes you so uncomfortable to think about black people (on average) having a lower IQ than white people. What about black people's domination of most sports? Is there systemic discrimination against white people in basketball and football? Or could it be that there are more black people who are more well suited to play these sports than whites?


> So the black martyr thing I don't really care to touch since that's pretty unrelated to the other statement of inequality between races.

I have to ask:

1. Why do you say it is unrelated? The author is making a direct connection between the first two sentences and the claim in the parentheses.

2. Are you saying you don't care to touch it because a) you don't feel comfortable making a nuanced argument in a hostile environment, or b) it is indefensible?

> It seems you are calling that statement crazy.

I asked two questions assuming respondents would have read the article. I may have missed something, but AFAICT the article in no way implied the blogger from my first quote is Urs.

What I found crazy is that somewhat that high up at Google would interrupt the usual HR process and attempt to get an employee in line using a Nazi metaphor. Especially when the metaphor implies to ignore whether your colleagues are Nazis. And most especially given how badly it turned out for tech companies that literally ignored the consequences to humanity that came from working with Nazis.

So, another question-- does my characterization of the alleged statement seem level-headed to you?

To characterize the first quote-- I don't find that statement crazy, but I do find it sad and alarming. Sad because the loose reasoning and fallacious argument is easily avoidable by iterating over a list of names, which is presumably something everyone poster here knows how to do. Alarming because I'm starting to get the sense there is some kind of underground racism railroad in tech where people whisper and reinforce opinions with each other, but without subjecting them to the same rigor and potential public ridicule that, say, sloppy patches to the kernel would receive.


>1. Why do you say it is unrelated? The author is making a direct connection between the first two sentences and the claim in the parentheses.

Yes, but it isn't something I agree with and I'm not obligated to support all of his positions.

> 2. Are you saying you don't care to touch it because a) you don't feel comfortable making a nuanced argument in a hostile environment, or b) it is indefensible?

I don't know if it is exactly indefensible, but I do think it is stated quite poorly and loosely. It is more of a smear than anything else and I don't really care to argue for it. I make an attempt at a generous reading (more devil's advocate) of it in another comment in this thread. It was also tangential to the point I was trying to make.

>What I found crazy is that somewhat that high up at Google would interrupt the usual HR process and attempt to get an employee in line using a Nazi metaphor. Especially when the metaphor implies to ignore whether your colleagues are Nazis. And most especially given how badly it turned out for tech companies that literally ignored the consequences to humanity that came from working with Nazis.

Ah I see. So you don't really think it is inappropriate to bring politics into the workplace? I generally don't (bring politics into the workplace), not because I really feel I'd be persecuted for my opinions, but because it simply isn't the place to talk about politics. I have worked at places where there were some conversations about religion and politics. What I found most amazing about them, was even if you agreed 99% things could get very heated about the 1% you disagree on. Which is a total distraction of the task at hand. Your company pays you to get work done, not to talk politics. Now, if you want to go to a happy hour after hours and talk about politics, that's fine. If you want to quit because someone else has an opinion that you disagree with, that's fine too. I do think it is a really shitty thing to do to attempt to get someone fired for an opinion they have. If you can prove it affects their job in some way, or how they interact with others, that's job performance. Of course, it is within a company's power to fire that person. I just think it is an underhanded tactic and potentially incredibly damaging, without much of a positive side.

If you think the prevailing attitude at your company is Nazi-sympathy, you have to determine if you want to work there. Hell, maybe you can expose that to the public in some way too. But if it is the tiny minority of people that it really is in the real world, and you didn't have any reason to believe it affected their job performance, let them have their dumb opinions. I have spoken to an admitted racist who wants a fascist state, because individualism has led to too much prosperity, which made me laugh out loud. I asked him how he treated minorities at his job. Of course I have no way of knowing if it is the truth, but he said he was paid to treat them like anyone else, so he did his best to not show his personal feelings. I think that free markets and economics ultimately favor people who don't discriminate.

> To characterize the first quote-- I don't find that statement crazy, but I do find it sad and alarming. Sad because the loose reasoning and fallacious argument is easily avoidable by iterating over a list of names, which is presumably something everyone poster here knows how to do. Alarming because I'm starting to get the sense there is some kind of underground racism railroad in tech where people whisper and reinforce opinions with each other, but without subjecting them to the same rigor and potential public ridicule that, say, sloppy patches to the kernel would receive.

Well it depends on what you mean by "in tech". There are spaces online where that kind of thing happens, sure. I can't really speak for other people's experience, but I've never worked with anyone who showed the slightest hint of discriminatory behavior or attitudes. The closest thing I've seen are elitists who resent people who didn't go to college.

I hope that poor arguments see the light of day and people can do their best to disprove them. I agree with Urs in the sense that work is not the appropriate place to talk about these things. Google has backed themselves into a corner in this situation though. They constantly publicly champion diversity initiatives, so how could you not expect people to talk about it internally?


> It is more of a smear than anything else and I don't really care to argue for it.

I'm not asking you to argue for it, I'm asking if you disagree with it.

> So you don't really think it is inappropriate to bring politics into the workplace?

Having a policy against politics in the workplace is one topic. An employer allegedly trying to enforce that policy by going around standard procedure to make a didactic example of ignoring Nazi colleagues is a separate topic.

Also, "Just how many Nazis are we talking, here?" is a parody of playing devil's advocate.


I think is fairly weak of you to create a throw-away account because you are afraid to stand for your opinions. Be a man or woman, not a coward. That said:

> If it makes you so uncomfortable to think about black people (on average) having a lower IQ than white people.

People who make this statement always, always, always use the thoroughly debunked "IQ Map" (https://iq-research.info/en/page/average-iq-by-country) as their source. It is based on data fabricated by Lynn and Vanhanen and jotted down in their book IQ and the Wealth of Nations.

> What about black people's domination of most sports?

Even if we assume that is true (which it isn't -- 972 medals were awarded at the 2016 Summer Olympics and only a fraction of them went to (really) "black people"), why on earth would domination of most sports imply low IQ?

Claiming a race is inferior to another based on faulty information is racist.


The average score of American blacks on IQ tests such as the WISC and Stanford-Binet is about one standard deviation below that of whites, and the performance of blacks on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT is consistent with that IQ difference. You can debate the origins of the IQ difference, but it does exist.

First of all, this isn't a throw-away account. I have been browsing HackerNews for a while, but only recently started commenting myself.

> People who make this statement always, always, always use the thoroughly debunked "IQ Map" (https://iq-research.info/en/page/average-iq-by-country) as their source. It is based on data fabricated by Lynn and Vanhanen and jotted down in their book IQ and the Wealth of Nations.

In terms of the debunked "IQ Map", that's not really what I was referring to. The Bell Curve is also a (admittedly controversial) source. I would like to know how that map is "debunked", you simply assert that it is.

> Even if we assume that is true (which it isn't -- 972 medals were awarded at the 2016 Summer Olympics and only a fraction of them went to (really) "black people"),

I'm confused by your qualification of "(really)" black people. Of course "race" is a bit arbitrary, what I really mean is genetic populations, which certainly exist in a scientific sense.

>why on earth would domination of most sports imply low IQ?

What? That's not what I was saying at all. We are talking about the inequality between races. There is an overrepresentation of black people in the most popular professional sports in the US, namely basketball and football. It is less the case with baseball, and there are very few black people who play hockey.

So I was trying to figure out why we see this inequality of representation of whites in basketball and football, despite there being plenty of them in high school.

Ultimately what I was getting at was that races (genetic populations) aren't perfectly equal in every way. I honestly don't see why that is a particularly controversial thing to say. Are heights uniform across countries through all the world? Humans have lot of different populations that only recently have been interacting in meaningful ways, and even with that there are still lots of places that are largely racially homogenous.

I'm an individualist, so I don't really think that you should pre-judge a person as being dumb or smart simply based on race. But we do have statistics that can help us understand the world as it is, along with trends. This can also help us make the world a better place. IQ seems to be largely genetic, but there are certainly environmental factors that play a role. Malnutrition being a very large one, considering how much energy the brain takes.

I shouldn't say I'm surprised at how hostile you are being, as I said in my comment before, I was aware of the minefield I was walking into. I do find it unfortunate how you simply assume the worst intentions about people. I think you might want to take a look inside yourself, consider how you deal with other people, and determine if it is productive.


That you didn't even know that Lynn and Vanhanen's research have been debunked means it is useless wasting time on you. Because if you were really interested in the topic of IQ and genetics you would have known that already! That kind of selective understanding is the hallmark of alt-righters everywhere.

The book The Bell Curve that you references doesn't make any definite inferences regarding IQ and race. It does not claim that IQ differences between races do exist. I know your defense is that you are not "actually" claiming that blacks are inferior intellectually to whites, you are "merely" asking the questions. Which is a bullshit defense since your questions are based upon faulty research that you have accepted without even doing the most basic research.

> What? That's not what I was saying at all. We are talking about the inequality between races. There is an overrepresentation of black people in the most popular professional sports in the US

There is an over representation of tall people too. There is an over representation of men... If you think I'm being hostile, it is because your arguments are so incredibly lame. I'm not a geneticist, but even I can refute them without much effort just by reading a few Wikipedia articles. Like why even reference The Bell Curve when that book was written a quarter of a century ago? It tells us nothing about modern genetic research.

Edit: You can have the last word if you want -- I'm not going to reply. I'm not interested in debating IQ and race. My reason for replying in the first place was to show that it is not true that people with your opinions are being downvoted/ignored/silenced/censured/disrespected/shunned by the media or whatever. There is no global SJW conspiracy. It's just that this "blacks have low IQ" trope have been pushed a whole lot. Try googling for "hacker news iq race" to see for yourself. It gets boring beating a dead horse.


> The book The Bell Curve that you references doesn't make any definite inferences regarding IQ and race.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve > Herrnstein and Murray report that Asian Americans have a higher mean IQ than white Americans, who in turn outscore black Americans. The book argues that the black-white gap is not due to test bias, noting that IQ tests do not tend to underpredict the school or job performance of black individuals and that the gap is larger on apparently culturally neutral test items than on more culturally loaded items. The authors also note that adjusting for socioeconomic status does not eliminate the black-white IQ gap. However, they argue that the gap is narrowing.

>I know your defense is that you are not "actually" claiming that blacks are inferior intellectually to whites, you are "merely" asking the questions.

I'm not "merely asking questions" I have a thesis. That is, races (defined as geographically based populations) are different from one another in more ways than just their skin color. Of course, there is lots of overlap because we are all human.

>If you think I'm being hostile, it is because your arguments are so incredibly lame. I'm not a geneticist, but even I can refute them

You honestly aren't doing a very good job.


> The authors also note that adjusting for socioeconomic status does not eliminate the black-white IQ gap. However, they argue that the gap is narrowing.

There are known environmental factors in IQ (most notably, early childhood environment factors), and because of de jure and de facto segregation (including redlining), which was quite active until fairly recently historically and continues to have substantial lingering effects on people's environment (even if all such active practices were ended, and some of the de facto practices have not been, that would still be true for a long time unless you randomly relocated the whole population to erase the impacts), so adjusting for socio-economic status other than race does not actually control for the environmental factors that contribute to IQ.

As such, the effect identified could plausibly be environmental, which would also explain why it is weakening over time with the elimination of some and erosion of other segregationist practices.


> There are known environmental factors in IQ (most notably, early childhood environment factors), and because of de jure and de facto segregation (including redlining)

Redlining doesn't really have much to do with early childhood malnutrition[0], which is the majority of "early childhood environment factors". Though pollution[1] seems to cause problems as well, which would have more to do with the neighborhood someone lives in.

> so adjusting for socio-economic status other than race does not actually control for the environmental factors that contribute to IQ.

I'm not sure this follows. Why wouldn't controlling for socioeconomic factors (such as parental income) be able to control for an environmental factor that has been shown to lower IQ (such as malnutrition)?

Some of the lines of logic that this would result in are kind of disturbing. It almost seems like you are suggesting that black people being segregated (via redlining) to be around other black people will make them have a lower IQ, even if they are just as wealthy as the white people across the railroad tracks. Perhaps they are on a more polluted side of the tracks? Though it doesn't seem that pollution would account for the standard deviation difference. Perhaps I'm just misunderstanding what you are saying.

[0]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2628311 [1]https://www.cbsnews.com/news/air-pollution-in-womb-linked-to...


Discussing politics and religion at work is always, always distracting and divisive. Do it outside work hours please.

Seriously, the only thing I truly gleaned from all the internal screenshots here is that Google is a horrific place to work where people are fighting about politics and the like with other coworkers. The infighting, the whole idea of blocking or blacklisting fellow employees... Who would seriously want to work in that hostile an environment?

Most of that is on mailing lists that nobody forces you to subscribe to.

Damore's lawsuit included screenshots of a high-level manager boasting about blacklisting employees who say the wrong thing about social justice. That makes for a toxic environment, regardless of what mailing lists you happen to be on.

And Google notoriously colluded with other employers in a “no poaching” scam that suppressed workers rights as well. Deeply toxic.

More on the blacklisting http://thefederalist.com/2018/01/10/19-insane-tidbits-james-...

The original scam https://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/25/no_poaching_a_doj_n...


I haven’t seen this reported, but seems really interesting to me. I just spend five minutes googling trying to find the actual memo, but came up empty.

Sorry with such a dumb request, but if you have the link ready I would appreciate it.

Edit:never mind, I tried some more using “screenshot” instead of “filing.” I found them.


Sorry, I should have been better about citing my sources. The manager who was blacklisting people for their opinion of social justice was Paul Cowan, see page 33 of Damore's lawsuit [1]. That section has many more examples of such behavior, which should be enough to persuade you that it's a systemic problem.

This article[2] is also worth reading, it highlights a bunch of other shocking tidbits from the lawsuit.

[1] https://www.scribd.com/document/368688363/James-Damore-vs-Go...

[2] http://thefederalist.com/2018/01/10/19-insane-tidbits-james-...


No, most of that is in the heads of employees and management. It leaks out through those mailing lists but that is not where it starts.

Mailing lists which have a direct and immediate effect on your employment status and ability to be promoted.

How so? For the majority of employees, the lists' main adverse effect on promotions is the time sink that they represent, just to read them. When I was there, only a minority of subscribers actually posted in the conversations. The rest would read them, mute them and sometimes frown ("why the hell did I sign up for eng-misc again?").

This is par for the course for any place where you're given a microphone, for good or for bad.


I would guess expressing a viewpoint strongly aligned with the individual most responsible for your promotion would help you land that promotion. Likewise voicing an opinion counter to a popular narrative of that individual could prevent you from getting one.

If the majority of your team or even just the management level of your department are participating, you must pick a side, keeping in mind silence and abstaining from emotionally charged discussions if often seen as picking a side in and of itself.


Disclosure: I work at Google.

Because the promotion process is based on feedback from your peers, but is decided by a random selection of people two levels higher than you, this shouldn't particularly be the case. I mean you could obviously alienate all your peers, such that nobody would give you even the faintest praise in your peer feedback, but that seems almost as hard as being promoted :). Again, your manager and your management chain don't directly decide whether or not you're promoted here. It's overall refreshing, if imperfect.


Damore's memo specificially cites Googlers receiving peer bonuses for participating in political conversation on these lists. Surely receipt (or lack thereof) of such bonuses would be taken into account by the random people who determine promotions, yes? At the very least, alienating peers puts you at a financial disadvantage.

I doubt anyone can give a very good answer to this without saying anything confidential, but suffice to say no, I don't believe that's the case. Perhaps others will chime in.

In my almost ten years, under almost as many managers and directors, only one of them was occasionally active on any of the lists I was on. Although some of his discussions with others got a bit tense, they were mostly of tech policy nature and I never felt afraid of disagreeing if I wanted to - with him, of all managers. Just one data point to say that perhaps "horrific" and "hostile" are a bit excessive.

That's what media articles would have you believe. How else would they get clicks?

this is one of the more important points that isn't being discussed enough. Why does the workplace need to be turned into a political minefield, there's something incredible presumptuous about the idea that everybody is supposed to proselytize at work.

Damore wasn't hired as an inhouse biologist but as an engineer. Same goes for everybody else. I personally have enough stuff to care about at work, I don't need to be drawn into any culture wars, if you want to discuss politics do it over a drink after work.

I partially blame Google for this because they have fostered a culture that turns the work environment into a living environment to squeeze as much brainpower out of their employees as possible. We need to go back to professional environments.

This is arguably also better for diversity in the first place. Women and minorities seem to do better in rule based environments like academia rather than summercamp like startups.


I more than partially blame Google. Open discussion on diversity at Google was the entire point of the Google-created forum.

(1) Lots of people say Google should be approaching diversity in one way. (2) Damore says Google ought to be approaching it another way. (3) Damore is fired. Not told "no, we're not going with your suggestion". Not told "you can't quote those studies". Fired.

If you're going to encourage this kind of discussion, you'd better be ready to hear researched opinions without firing people. But Google wasn't in a position to do that, so they shouldn't have encouraged it.


Damore was fired for stating without ambiguity that not only should Google drop diversity initiatives, but that some current Google engineers are innately less talented than others based solely on their gender.

That creates a hostile work environment. Which is why he was fired.

His opinion was not "well researched". He quoted respectable studies then took multiple leaps and applied them inappropriately.

I don't understand how anyone who doesn't understand why he was fired can hold down a professional career.


> His opinion was not "well researched".

I never claimed it was "well" researched, just that he was citing honest, peer-reviewed studies. [Insert rational, mature critique of Damore's citations.]

> Damore was fired for stating without ambiguity that not only should Google drop diversity initiatives, but that some current Google engineers are innately less talented than others based solely on their gender.

Damore:

"I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions."

"Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are 'just.' I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions."

Are either of these the quotes you are thinking of?


The employees at Google that are invested in these discussions seem to care a lot about improving Google, they just have different ideas on what needs improving and how to make it happen (to get a sense of how different consider Holzle's 'the majority of your coworkers' comment). Other organizations might manage this by setting up a one or more day workshop or retreat in order for selected employees to hash out the vision and action items.

It doesn't have to be, per se - and really shouldn't be.

Practice the principle of charity. Assume the best of your debate parter(s). Argue in good faith. Desire truth, not for your claim to the correct one. Find shared values in others, even amidst disagreement. Decouple political beliefs from your identity as a person.

There's no real good reason discussions about politics and religion ought to be divisive.


Politics means "everything that affects society" so how can a company like google ignore "everything that affects society?"

Why? If you are distracted by political discussions, just put on your earphones. Just like I do when my colleagues discuss which football team that is the best.

Okay.....but who was talking "politics"? James Damore? James Damore's co-workers? Both? Nobody?

Diversity and social justice type topics have become political wedge issues unfortunately, so everyone.

Link to the doc: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4347486-What-Happene...

It might be worth sharing that when some Googlers made a custom Cards Against Humanity deck, one of the cards just said "Cory Altheide". (Or so I heard.)

Let's just say the man is neither shy nor politically correct. "Worrying pattern of posting topics that are divisive" is understating things because it leaves out the "gleeful" part. I miss his G+ feed.


Why does Google encourage discussions of these policies in the first place? What’s there to gain?

It’s up to the owners of the company to communicate the values they want to promote in the workplace; management to implement specific policies; and employees to suck it up (and talk to HR if they feel their rights are being violated).

To take an example from the other end of the spectrum, I don’t imagine that fundamentalist Christian owned Hobby Lobby has an internal mailing list for discussing their policies. Why should Google feel any more compelled to seek employee approval?


Because people like discussing things, plus dogfooding.

There was a time when a company could create an internal mailing list called "politics" without worrying too much.


That was a long time ago.

I'm sure the regexp /[gG]od/ shows up in corporate Hotel Lobby email, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Friday night fellowship is organized via Hotel Lobby company email lists (to discuss how better devote yourself to the Lord).

The same way that after work alcohol parties (colloquially known as "drinks") or board games at the office after a hard day of coding are organized via Slack; humans are going to talk to each other about idle activities.


they want to for brownie points

“The document, which was written in 2016 and shared publicly this week, provides a striking counterpoint to allegations made by former Google employees James Damore and David Gudeman in a discrimination lawsuit filed against their former employer.”

These two actions by Google are not necessarily in conflict. It’s possible to discourage both opinions without showing any kind of biased agenda.


Pathetic attempt of another white hetro male trying to demonize diversity in a shallow and transparent attempt at retaining white privilege through the world.

"...ALLEGATIONS made by former Google employees James Damore and David Gudeman in a discrimination lawsuit filed against their former employer. Damore and Gudeman CLAIM that Google encouraged pro-diversity voices within the company and stifled conservative views. However, THE NEW DOCUMENT ILLUSTRATES that employees who spoke out in favor of diversity initiatives were reprimanded as well..." [ALL CAPS added by me]

So, the consistently left-leaning analysts at Gizmodo inform us that James Damore, whom Google themselves say they fired for the opinions expressed in a memo we can all read and see for ourselves what he was fired for, is still only alleging and claiming that the company that SAYS they fired him for expressing these views stifles conservative views.

But a MEMO written by a guy whom Google didn't fire at all, much less for expressing a pro-diversity opinion, but simply quit becomes a NEW DOCUMENT that ILLUSTRATES facts about Google not otherwise in evidence.

I lived in a country once with a state-controlled media that would begin its evening news reports with statements such as, "US President so-and-so claimed such-and-such today, but our-glorious-leader set the record straight, pointing out that blah-blah." I wondered how people in that country could hear that template and not see that it was blatantly biased at the template level. It wasn't just a biased interpretation of the issue, but was biased on the face of it, even before anything about the actual issue was inserted in the blanks.

But I discovered that people who consistently heard media talking this way couldn't detect even this blatant a bias in format, much less in the content of the actual issue, so the writers didn't have to even pretend superficially. With government-controlled media, most people lived in a bubble. Everything they were told agreed with everything else they were told, so it was just common sense, and anything I said that contradicted "the narrative" was considered utter nonsense.

What does it say about the tech audience Gizmodo is writing for that they are as confident as the state media in that small, tropical dictatorship, that they can be this blatant and their audience lives in such an ideological bubble, self-imposed in our case, that they'll approve of it and want more like it?


> ALL CAPS added by me

Please don't. It breaks the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Also, please don't post ideological rants to Hacker News regardless of your ideology. We're hoping for thoughtful discussion here, not flames.


I know there's this convenient meta-rule that says we can't discuss the rules, but this site really needs to scrap the concept of an "ideological rant". It pre-supposes the existence of non-ideological moderators and posters, a false assumption, which means it is only ever applied in one direction - there are lots of far more ranty and ideological things posted here which are left well alone, because they agree with the increasingly rather odd Silicon Valley (but not rest of America) social norms.

The OP posted interesting insights from his time in a small totalitarian state. He also drew comparisons to the writing style of Gizmodo. This sort of post has value to me, even if it might not be right, because it makes me think about new topics and existing topics in new ways. It merits further discussion and analysis, not downvoting, flagging, and being ticked off by moderators for being "ideological".

But this is one instance of a wider issue, that moderation and flagging in discussions of Google's diversity-related woes is often wildly inconsistent for no apparent reason. Slashdot associates adjectives with votes and moderation decisions, something maybe HN could use. I now routinely expand hidden posts and have showdead switched on because the ratio of useful and well written flagged posts to genuine spam or nonsense is so unbalanced. There's hardly any genuine spam or trolling here.

Other examples - there's a post further up by calculusftw that's dead for no apparent reason, as the post itself seems calm, well written and to present a reasonable point of view that is repeated by other posts elsewhere. Another post by nodesocket compares the management styles of Google vs other bay area tech firms and claims differing management style is related to the internal culture - it is both flagged and dead, again for no apparent reason.


The concept is valuable because it identifies a predator species that kills the intellectual curiosity HN exists for. This is independent of the content of the rant. If an army tramples your garden, it doesn't matter whether they led with their left feet or right, or what color the uniforms were.

You're thinking about this in terms of specific comments and political views, while for us it is a systemic problem of how to run a large, anonymous internet forum that doesn't self-destruct. These are two different perspectives. That gap is why people make the mistake of feeling certain that we're secretly biased in favor of $X, where $X has nothing to do with us but is rather the inversion of their own ideological side. All sides think this, leading to many contradictory-yet-somehow-all-the-same charges of manipulation. I presume it is the same cognitive bias that makes sports fans 'know' that the refs secretly support $X, where X is whoever opposes their favorite team today.

Often people throw in seemingly factual statements like you did here: "because they agree with the increasingly rather odd Silicon Valley...". A statement like that is simply invented. You don't know it; you can't know it; nor can you point to any statement showing it. It just feels like it's true. Meanwhile opposite people say opposite things, feeling just the same way that you do. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16098840 is typical.

There's an incongruence between saying that HN is filled with quality discussion ("hardly any genuine spam or trolling") and that the moderators are biased censors (Soviet-style! adds your sibling commenter) stamping out good discussion. That would hardly be quality-enhancing behavior. The assumption that if only we would stop doing what we do, HN would get better, is magical thinking. If HN is any good, how did it get good to begin with? How could it stay any good, if the moderators are so repellent?

Re dead comments, there are lots of reasons why that happens. Sometimes it's software that we've written based on past patterns of abuse; sometimes it's user flags, etc. These methods are indispensable but imperfect, which is why we created the 'vouch' feature for community members to rescue dead comments that shouldn't be dead. Anyone with karma > 30 can click a comment's timestamp to go to its page, then click 'vouch'. This way, instead of interpreting it as censorship and complaining about the refs, you and your fellow community members can simply reverse it. How Soviet is that!


Only left leaning rants are allowed, you are just like my old soviet censors. Pazor!


It's common practice in media when dealing with court cases which have not been resolved to use language consistent with the non-resolution. So yes, they use the words "alleging" and "claiming," because it is consistent with what is going on in the courts.

If the use of "alleging" and "claiming" is proper for one side of the argument, and I allege and claim that it is, it is proper for the counterargument, especially when both are presented in the same paragraph as a contrast.

Several things, 1. it's an assumption that gizmodo is writing for a tech audience, 2. it's not really "blatant" in that, ultimately, it's completely intentional since this is what gets monetizable views - gizmodo pushes an agenda because it's profitable to do so Overall, great comment.

This is so grating. And honestly, not even that bad compared to what I often see nowadays (from multiple sides).

Reading news seems to requires a very strong -- to borrow Wikipedia's term -- "weasel word" filter, and paying attention to only bare facts.


[flagged]


Note: Google makes a ton more profit than those companies.

Note: I own $GOOG stock. Just saying these political PR nightmares never happened under Steve Jobs for example.

The temptation for "enlightened dictatorship" is strong - both in society & in business. One of the problems with it is that, while efficient, it's fragile. The dictatorship can be effective in moving you in a certain direction - but it's horribly ineffective at adapting & changing direction/finding new directions. Long-term, dictatorships all fail because of that (even though short-term they can indeed be spectacularly successful)

This is so suspicious it's comical. Just when it seems like Google has been humiliated by the embarrassing screenshots in Damore's lawsuit, a mysterious new document, from the summer of 2015 to 2016, never-before-released until right now, showing Google's top brass handle controversy over diversity smoothly and professionally. No bickering, no cursing, no hostile workplace. No booing of White males, no anti-Trump memes, no antifa recruitment, no "sexually identifying as a wingless dragonkin." Just the professionalism of Google. And who discovered this document that totally vindicates Google and refutes Damore's lawsuit? Why, it's Gizmodo! The very same people who originally leaked Damore's memo (out of context, with all of the sources removed) kicking off all of the outrage and accusations of sexism against him in the first place.

How do we feel about this?

Please don't post unsubstantive comments here.

That we would like terms defined, and examples given?

This suit-story's various spins are starting to feel very Orwellian (in aggregate).




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