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A note to our employees (blog.google)
243 points by minimaxir 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 396 comments





One of the more interesting pieces is buried in the linked PDF:

"Excessive alcohol: Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse. But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking (~20% of cases). Our policy is clear: Excessive consumption of alcohol is not permitted when you are at work, performing Google business, or attending a Google-related event, whether onsite or offsite. Going forward, all leaders at the company - Directors, VPs and SVPs - will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged. For example, many teams have already put two-drink limits in place for events. Others use drink ticket systems. The onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams, and we will impose more onerous actions if problems persist."

As someone who's been exposed to heavy drinking culture in Silicon Valley, this is a huge step in the right direction. I hope more companies and tech events adopt this.


Why not just ban alcohol at work? Why can't work be work, and social stuff can happen outside of it?

I know it sounds a bit extreme. But, after reading "It doesn't have to be crazy it work," I feel like companies use alcohol to bribe employees to stay at the office after-hours.

A midground would be drinking only with sit-down food. Nobody is doing shots while having dinner. Another idea could be making company social functions a lunch activity, rather than a dinner one.


Feel free to ban anything you want at work. And the people who work there will select for if they want to be a part of it by becoming or remaining employees. (There are, of course, things that are illegal to ban)

I personally want to work somewhere who values me as a responsible human being, and expects me to behave like one. The more a workplace feels like they have to micromanage their employees like children, the more I would expect their workplace to be filled with people who act like children. And I personally wouldn’t want to work somewhere like that.

Hire intelligent, respectful, ethical, empathetic, mature adults to do interesting work. Fire the ones who don’t live up to it.

I expect workplace requirements to be spelled out in terms of expected behavior, expected performance, expected results. Define the outputs.

And take responsibility up the chain. IMO the right policy is not to ban alcohol entirely. Rather, if an employee behaves inappropriately the employee is responsible, but if the manager created the environment which lead to the behavior (whether that be approving the purchase of a keg and cheering for a keg stand, or not stopping that engineer from being verbally abusive at the daily stand ups) the manager is also held to account.


> The more a workplace feels like they have to micromanage their employees like children, the more I would expect their workplace to be filled with people who act like children.

This is exactly what I always thought until I ended up working at a place that did not ban anything. I had no idea how far some will take this freedom, until I saw it, and then I thought: Wish this place banned a few things.


Sounds like they should've banned a few people, not a few things.

"(~20% of cases)"

Apparently, many of the people Google is hiring are not intelligent, respectful, ethical, empathetic, or mature. The problem is, once you've hired them, firing them requires investigations, proofs, lawsuits, internet drama, and so forth. I'd imagine going after managers would be even more problematic.

I'd just as soon work for a place that bans alcohol, including at the unofficial, optional-mandatory social functions. In fact, that pretty well describes every place I've worked.


20% of cases where the perp had been drinking. It doesn't necessarily mean they were drinking to excess. Someone who wants to harass another employee doesn't need an excessive amount of alcohol to do so.

It seems almost taboo to say this in 2018 but in my experience alcohol, when used by intelligent, respectful, mature adults facilitates healthy bonds that would not be there otherwise and persist long after the effects of the alcohol have worn off.


Is that true in california? I thought it was always at-will and that employers do not need to provide any reasoning.

There are exceptions to at-will employment public policy.

https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2001/01/art1full.pdf (BLS PDF, The employment-at-will doctrine: three major exceptions)


The positive aspect of banning alcohol consumption is that it's an objective measure. If somebody is a drunken lout pawing his employees, save the victim more exposure by drumming him out for the alcohol.

With the possible exception of salespeople entertaining clients, there's no need to drink on duty, and if you do, there is a consequence.


You don't need to ban alcohol in order to punish someone for being visibly drunken or pawing at employees.

If you allow drinking at work, what BAC is ok?

What exactly is the justification for endorsing drinking at work?


Not endorsing, but allowing is aimed at letting people feel like they aren't being handled like children by their employer, and, as alcohol is a very common component of social interaction in western culture, is meant to make it easier for workers to socialize and make friends with their colleagues. I'd imagine the reason for wanting that is something like that employees who are more connected with each other are more likely:

a) to want to stay at the company with their friends, less turnover

b) to be happier at work which is good for performance, recruiting, and makes them less likely to feel the need to rush out of the office whenever they can.

c) to efficiently organize themselves and find the right people to get things done if they know each other well

d) to be transparent to each other and reduce friction in communications

You might not ever have some beer or wine when you socialize with people, but for a huge number of people that's viewed as an integral part of socializing.


The amount of alcohol you consume doesn't really matter.

It's the behavior that is punishable regardless of whether you were drinking or not.


So when your high functioning alcoholic blows a .22 after taking out a telephone pole and hurting another driver, what do you do then?

What portion of responsibility will the victims attorney pin on you?


Zero. Don't drink and drive; It's the drinkers responsibility. Do you blame the liquor store? The state liquor laws?

Nope. Serving alcohol or providing a place to drink can make you liable.

That’s why you’re usually advised to get a liability policy for weddings and large parties.


Sleep deprivation affects cognitive ability. It affects everyone differently. It is sometimes involuntary, sometimes voluntary.

That said, how many hours' sleep the night before a day's work is acceptable?


> If you allow drinking at work, what BAC is ok?

Rules don't have to be written around BAC, they can be written around behavior or impairment.

(In fact, while they tend to also have a BAC cutoff for ease of proof, criminal drunk driving laws also are written around impairment, and corporate policy doesn't even have to worry about proof issues in at-will jurisdictions, because there is no proof requirement.)


Marijuana is now legal in California too. What standards apply there?

Don't be stoned out of your mind

> Marijuana is now legal in California too.

No, it's still against federal law, which covers California.


I don't think the parent comment is at all disagreeing with the existence of any utility in "banning alcohol" here.

The gist of what the parent comment is saying, is that, if you have a policy in place to "compensate" for a certain "negative trait," what you are actually doing is inviting _more_ of that trait, because you are signaling that your company will put effort in to help deal with that, which means that someone who needs help monitoring their alcohol consumption would be _more likely_ to work for you, thus accomplishing essentially the opposite of what you wanted.

Mature adults who do _not_ need someone else to monitor their alcohol consumption are far more likely to inherently present with the responsible, adult behaviors that you desire. But, a mature adult who can already sufficiently moderate their own alcohol consumption is going to be _less likely_ to want to work at a place where said consumption is heavily, outwardly regulated/enforced, because why would they want to be constantly told something that they have already fully incorporated into their mature, adult habits and personality?


Mature adults also don’t sexually harass their colleagues.

My priority is to have swift, clear consequences for harassment. If you are drinking at work and in your buzz behave inappropriately, I want you walked out of the building for the alcohol and spare the victim from the more harm.

You don’t need to infantalize folks. It’s really simple: if you want to go get drinks, there’s a bar down the road.


"Mature adults who do _not_ need someone else to monitor their alcohol consumption are far more likely to inherently present with the responsible, adult behaviors that you desire."

That doesn't seem to describe Google's employees. (Or anyone under the age of 30, for that matter, says the little tiny cynic who lives on my shoulder.)


Can we ban nerf guns and adult slides? Good grief, much of Silicon Valley feels like a kindergarten.

why does it have to be a ban? isn't it satisfying enough just to look down at your inferiors and bask in how mature you are?

> I personally want to work somewhere who values me as a responsible human being, and expects me to behave like one.

Responsible human beings don't drink alcohol in the workplace. If a person is drawing a salary, they should be presenting to work fit & as prepared as possible to do it. There is no good reason for employees to be drinking at or prior to work. Unless, I suppose, there is some well-replicated study showing that alcohol in low doses increases cognitive function despite all my expectations.

Management doesn't have a magic crystal ball to tell truth from falsehood and fact from hearsay - and because of that uncertainty firing people is a far last resort for creating a safe and welcoming workspace. Banning alcohol at work is both prudent and reasonable.


You have a very narrow view of "the workplace".

I used to work for a large well respected software company. On Fridays, after work, there was a subsidized bar where we could have a beer or two and discuss work or non-work things in a more relaxed atmosphere. Would you ban that?

If I go to a conference and we have an official conference social meet-up should I be prohibited from consuming alcohol?

I have my own straw man. You say:

> they should be presenting to work fit & as prepared as possible to do it

I propose that we ban coffee in the workplace because we should all be at 100% all the time and coffee obviously shows you aren't turning up ready to work.


> You have a very narrow view of "the workplace".

On the contrary, I have a very broad view of the workplace. Yes to all your questions. I don't work in tech, and there are no subsidised bars or alcohol at conferences. We got subsidised gym memberships and tea at the conferences I'm used to. If you want to drink, your money, your time, after work. If you want to get tipsy with colleagues in your own time, it is not in any way endorsed by the company.

My personal guess is the tech industry _will_ eventually ban alcohol at all such things as the link between drinking, uninhibited men and sexual harassment is bought up again and again. The bad apples will spoil the whole barrel.

> I propose that we ban coffee in the workplace because we should all be at 100% all the time and coffee obviously shows you aren't turning up ready to work.

Well, I don't agree with you. But if you have evidence, sure. My understanding is coffee is a mild stimulant, so it should be linked to a very mild improvement in work performance - so I doubt you have evidence.

People do turn up to work unprepared. We can't really stop that - maybe they just get a bad nights sleep. But alcohol is going to have a pretty strictly negative effect, so employees shouldn't be drinking it in company hours or before work.


Both of my examples were after work. So we're not talking about being at your desk answering support tickets and calculating bridge loading equations.

My point about taking a narrow view is that "the workplace" is not only at-your-desk time. Its geographic-but-after-hours, related but off-site social events.

On a related note, a lot of the discussions around software project codes of conduct are based on the fact that software projects fundamentally are human endeavours. It's not just about the code you churn out. If you want to employ humans you have to let them be human. That means some degree of socializing. If you want to employ machines you have to maintain them too.

My coffee counterexample was to illustrate that your approach seems to be binary, zero tolerance. With humans involved, I think it's just not that simple.


:P I don't understand why you are insisting that I have a narrow view of the workplace, I've read what you've written and agree. I can tell that your examples are after work, we're not talking about sitting at your desk. I'm talking about geographic-but-after-hours and related but off-site social events too.

> a subsidized bar

And if an employee does something stupid after being in that bar, it requires an absolute contortion of language to say that maybe the presence and cheapness of the grog wasn't a contributing factor. Say in a bad case a male employee sexually harasses some female coworker - the woman involved (and, I suspect, a judge) might well question why the company was enabling this. I personally think that the company should be held responsible as much as the drunk employee.

It is simply too easy to link subsidised alcohol to someone acting inappropriately due to alcohol.

> official conference social meet-up

Ditto. If the meetup is official, there should be no alcohol. Learn to socialise over a lemonade. I've seen a very large number of professionals who, somehow, manage to do just that.

> My coffee counterexample was to illustrate that your approach seems to be binary, zero tolerance. With humans involved, I think it's just not that simple.

If I, in a capacity as an employer, am going to have some responsibility for some employees actions then that employee, whilst I am responsible for them, is not going to be drinking alcohol. There risk far outweighs the hypothetical employee who can only socialise with a glass in hand.

I'm not even making that decision on any specific risk factor - alcohol leads to worse decisions, in a way that coffee does not. We live in an age where companies are often responsible for outcomes in a _very broad_ definition of "workplace". If the company might be responsible, then employees have a responsibility to be making their best decisions.

If you want to drink with your workmates the process should be organise it unofficially, go find a bar and don't wear a hat with a corporate logo on it. It isn't hard to do. If drinking is mandatory to having a career then that is the problem, not my hardline approach to alcohol.


Can we ban companies from encroaching on ever more of our lives then? It's already a baseline to have it be one third of the working week, but many of these social events are "optional" as in it's optional to continue in your career.

By suggesting that companies ban taking part in that activity, but not preventing them from taking an ever increasing part of our lives through long hours and after work events, you are effectively advocating that we ban the activity in it's entirety


I'm not a coding robot that needs to be min/maxed for my productivity output all day at work. I'm certainly not even programming all day at work.

So I would not want to work where you're in charge where everything I may want to do (or consume) is judged on its productivity basis.

You probably have habits that sacrifice your work performance. There's a good chance, at the very least, you weigh more than you should, work out less than you should, and eat fewer vegetables than you should. You might even have children or plan to have them one day. Yikes!

And all of these cost you much more than the morale boosting beer I get to share with my team as is tradition towards the end of a Friday.


Having a drink in the workplace aftera day of hard work works great for morale.

> Having a drink in the workplace aftera day of hard work works great for morale.

So do many other things. If the only thing that keeps morale acceptable is providing alcohol, then you have a problem either with the people you hire, the work you make them do, or the amount of resources you're willing to expend on morale.


The fact that other things also boost morale does not invalidate the point that having a drink in the workplace boosts morale. And nobody has even implied that workplace alcohol is the _only_ thing that keeps morale acceptable.

What about at lunch? Sometimes, I go out to lunch and want a martini or two...

> alcohol in low doses increases cognitive function

https://xkcd.com/323/


A BAC of .13 is not a low dose of alcohol. It means you are pretty heavily intoxicated.

problem solved

Why not NOT ban alcohol at work, and when an employee fucks up, just fire him ?

Is that really not a solution here ?

at the end of the day, people should be accountable for their own actions, and i should not be punished if i want to have a beer after working hours with colleagues because a tiny minority of people at my company cant drinking responsibly


> ...when an employee fucks up, just fire him ? > Is that really not a solution here ?

Not for the victim.


I agree, though I think a warning for a first offense is more reasonable. It seems like every company would rather set policy based on the worst possible interpretation rather than leaving things a little looser and dealing with problems/oversteppers directly.

I don't know. It seems like either you're responsible for your behavior, or you are not. Having a first-offense warning just shows that the company isn't really serious about dealing with the problem.

Zero Tolerance Policies, generally also mean Zero Thinking Policies.

The punishment should fit the crime, and most situations are warrant only a warning or a minor punishment - and if behavior improves, all is well.


We seem to be backing off of the whole "personal responsibility" thing. If you start off with the policy that "we trust all of our employees to behave like mature adults" and they don't, they've demonstrated that you can't trust them, no?

If you have that policy and then start down the road of first-offense warnings, or trying to match the punishment to the crime, you end up in exactly the place where a lot of companies are now. (This isn't a new idea; it's how companies have always operated.) Without a specific set of policies, the company literally cannot do anything right: If you fire someone because his coworkers say they cannot work with him, everyone starts frothing at the mouth. If you pay someone else to leave because he's too important to fire, everyone digs out their pitchforks and torches. If you do nothing, it blows up in your face, spectacularly.


Firing everyone who has any sort of policy infraction fails to note their humanity, and fails to account for the money the company has invested in them.

What % of incidents were first offenses? Unless it's a really low number, firing after first offense won't reduce the total number of incidents enough.

I disagree. You're assuming that only direct punishment can affect behavior, when the _threat_ of punishment after first offense can also affect behavior.

As a ridiculous hyperbole: assume a life in prison minimum sentence is established for speeding, on the first offense, and that it's actually enforced. I guarantee you that very quickly we'd have everyone driving under the posted speed limit at all times.


You're assuming offenders anticipate the bad things they do drunk and thus can be deterred.

Counterpoint to your ridiculous hyperbole: Why isn't the murder rate near zero in states with the death penalty?

Isn't that backwards? If most offenses are first offenses, then firing after a first offense won't help much. But if most offense are repeat, firing after the first offense would have prevented the repeat, right?

What you're saying and what I said are consistent, not backwards.

"If most offenses are first offenses" satisfies the predicate "Unless [% of first offenses] is a really low number"

The consequent "firing after a first offense won't help much" is consistent with "firing after first offense won't reduce the total number of incidents enough."


So many easy solutions are to just ban the thing, and not investigate/legislate the actual reason for doing the thing.

But quick change is often more desirable than real change.


I know it sounds a bit extreme.

Not extreme at all. Except for salespeople having business lunches, in the United States, drinking on company time is pretty much verboten outside of the tech bubble.


in the United States, drinking on company time is pretty much verboten outside of the tech bubble.

I don't think this is true, especially for company parties. I have also heard of people in other industries drinking in the office, usually these were smaller companies, or the people doing the drinking were upper management.


WeWork banned meat at company events or on company expense accounts [1]. Would it be that hard to do something similar for alcohol? Then, bringing it back to Google, if people misbehave after having alcohol - then they bought the drinks, and came to a company event while intoxicated.

When I was at OpenDNS, @davidu used to say something along the lines of, "When you try to host a big company party with over 100 people, you expect to have to fire somebody for their behavior there. Don't be that person." Maybe the costs don't outweigh the benefits of work parties.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/13/wework-m...


Wow, WeWork won't even allow employees to expense meals that have meat in them?! That's ridiculous. The environmental situation with beef is a little more complex than "less beef eaten -> fewer cows -> less methane -> less climate change."

What's even more ridiculous is that beef is the costly meat from an environmental perspective, but they've also banned poultry and all other types of meat. I can understand not serving meat, but not allowing employees to expense meals involving meat would make me reconsider working there - especially because of the heavy handed way they did it.


> The environmental situation with beef is a little more complex than "less beef eaten -> fewer cows -> less methane -> less climate change."

I'm not aware of this, and would be interested in knowing more; as I understand currently, that flow really does apply.


Welcome to world of political correctness. Also is minority of employees claim anyone eating meat hurt their feelings companies could reasonably ban meat in office meals claiming it is creating non-welcoming workplace.

It was nothing to do with feelings. Why don't you try reading?

It's not just an environmental issue. It's an ethical issue.

Maybe some companies out there also banned slave ownership across the board. Probably seemed unfair, too. Did they not realize how useful slaves are?

Now, this seems like a silly comparison because we're all so used to eating meat for every meal, but does familiarity trump ethical concerns?


Absurd. I'd never work at such a company, in part due to the type of people that kind of policy would attract. If this rule was enacted and I was already an employee, I'd spend the money to bring large meat spreads to all of the events.

Why would that be a reasonable response to this policy? It largely seems childish, and reactionary, in the face of a policy that is (clearly!) intended to improve the world.

It's a response that will improve the world. Opposing it is childish and reactionary.

Perhaps WeWork knew what they were doing.

They are probably happy you wouldn't have joined then. Win-win.

> I'd never work at such a company, in part due to the type of people that kind of policy would attract.

I think you may be overestimating the volume of job applicants that pay attention to such policies, and/or their qualifications.

I am referring only to the prohibition on expensing certain types of meals, not non-meat food/environments in general.


It isn't in the Midwest, although vary by company but It tends to be a "don't abuse it, use your judgement". Sometimes that can be a beer in the middle of the day. Sometimes it's happy hour on the clock on Fridays.

>Why not just ban alcohol at work? Why can't work be work, and social stuff can happen outside of it?

I see this sentiment a lot (especially on HN!) and I share it. I usually skip team dinners when I can. But there's no accounting for taste, and humans in general seem to have a taste for mixing work and "social stuff", so why shouldn't companies encourage it in that capacity?


We already single out certain social things as just not a good idea in the workplace/events even though its common socially: public displays of affection, having lots of kids around, single-sex activities... Its isolating/disruptive if you can't/won't take part. Its unfair when based on things not in the job description (relationships/kids/gender respectively).

I don't see why alcohol (excludes non-drinkers) or team-building activities outside of business hours (excludes those with family commitments) couldn't be one of those things.


By the time you've excluded all the possible activities that someone could find isolating, you've got a pretty boring work environment.

Here's the box you will be working in. Don't forget to turn off the light when you leave Friday.


That's OK. We are also supposed to have private life. If work is not fun enough without those events, maybe it is not fun in general.

I'll take it a step further -- why does work need to be fun?

It's my meal ticket, not my hobby; it needs to be tolerable.

The "fun at work" meme is, IMO, a way to keep people in the office longer a la the GOOOOG's Gilded Cage.


I think it depends on how you define fun. For me personally, does a workplace need to have alcohol, video games, bowling alleys, and ping pong tables? Probably not. It does need to be interesting though. And my co-workers/team need to be enjoyable to be around, both professionally and personally. If I'm not consistently having a good time at work, which could be construed as having "fun", there's very little reason for me to stick around. Especially in the tech scene, there's always a better place to work, so it's competitively advantageous for companies to have "fun" workplaces.

That might be ok for you, but not for me.

I am not going to work anywhere that I don't enjoy. I will instead quit and go somewhere else.

You are free to do otherwise. But just be aware that people have fun at work because they like to do so. And many people would quit if they didn't enjoy their work


> By the time you've excluded all the possible activities that someone could find isolating, you've got a pretty boring work environment.

Or you could list the attributes that you expect people to have during the hiring process and then decline to hire those that don't fit the company's culture.


Where do I sign up?!

What is wrong with that? It keeps minds focused on what should happen at work: work.

Nope, for some of us, taking breaks where we focus on other stuff is essential to perform better.

In my case, that's taking occasional walks to the coffeeshop nearby, despite their lack of inclusiveness of people with mobility problems and those who don't like coffee.


What's wrong is that I have the luxury of working at places that enjoy. I am not going to work at a place that I don't like.

You are free to choose otherwise, but me and many other people have the ability of quiting and working in better work environments.


I don’t see how the presence of alcohol excludes others? Most places that serve alcohol are perfectly capable of serving juice.

Its not the presense of the thing or the ability to decline, its the impact on those not taking part. If colleagues consuming alcohol exclude non-drinkers by their intentional or unintentional actions or make them feel like less of a team member (by say getting real drunk which is always annoying to non-drinkers), and drinking is not in the job description, then companies should not make it a part of a work event (IMO).

Having lots of kids around? One of my favorite jobs had a group of parents who would come in on the weekend for play dates (in designated areas). The company supported them, often organizing age appripriate maker type events.

Its not the thing, its the impact on the "normal" 9-5 worker. Its great that the company did that on the weekend, but they clearly didn't think it was good during the normal work week, which was my point.

"I usually skip team dinners when I can."

The other side of that is the question, "How much damage has skipping employer social events done to your career?" You'll probably never know the answer.


On the flip-side, you usually hear about people who crater their reputation due to their antics at office parties.

I'm sure they didn't have "get drunk and make everyone listen to their inappropriate jokes or worse" on their mind when they left the office.


[Googler here] We have much less company-provided alcohol at work than most tech companies that I'm aware of. Mostly beers once a week, and most people don't participate.

This change is mostly talking about work social events that take place off site. My team's company holiday party last year was piloting this and gave each person two drink tickets upon entering.

I think banning alcohol completely would reduce the attendance of these social events, so this is a good step where we can keep the social benefits without letting it get out of hand. For instance the holiday party I mentioned was on a Friday night. I really enjoy having a few drinks on a Friday night, and I'm much more likely to attend a Google party with 2 drinks tickets than one with zero. I know that sounds silly and immature, but it's honest.


piloting? drink tickets have been a thing at google since 2005 ish

Huh that's interesting! Been here for ~5 years and this drink ticket thing is only ~1yr old in my experience.

An incremental step would be for a company to not pay for alcohol. Don't allow employees to expense alcohol. For catered company events, the company could charge people per alcoholic drink or just not serve any.

Most employers don't allow drinking at work. Some allow it at company events, provided it doesn't become a problem. The funny thing is about a lot of Silicon Valley companies, I think, is that they decided in their attempt to reinvent work that they'd throw out a couple hundred years of learned experience on what does and doesn't work in a corporate setting.

The "fun places to work" eventually figure out that fun for some is often at the expense of others, and that most things corporate environments have ruled out were ruled out a long time ago because they didn't work well.


Ever worked in the UK or Europe? Some things are culturally particular.

The policy includes attending google-related events. Not being able to have a beer at a mixer at a conference Google sent you to or sponsored is a pretty shit limitation. Not being able to have a beer at lunch or dinner is also pretty crummy, because the vast majority of people are adults and comport themselves accordingly.

20 percent.... it's hardly the main issue.

It also depends on the culture of the country.

In France it is common to have a small party (pot) during work hours when some people would have one drink. Max two.

These also can be at the end of the day but then usually this is by someone who is leaving.


Having a beer is I engrained in American work culture. Also I've worked at multiple companies where they had work functions at dinnertime and no one got that drunk (generally there were 2 drink maximums, which probably helped) so it's definitely possible to fix the issue without just banning it

Having a beer is I engrained in American work culture

Ummm... no, it's not.

Having had dozens of jobs in five industries over the decades, I've never worked for one where drinking on company time isn't a fireable offense.

The only exceptions were at the company Christmas parties, and overnight DJ's who were tolerated doing lines of coke off of CD cases. But that's another problem altogether.


"Beer o'clock", typically on a Friday afternoon, is a very common phenomenon in North American software & game companies. :)

That's exactly the point - it's common in software, but virtually unheard of everywhere else. So it's the software industry that's out of touch with the broader American work culture here.

Definitely not. I am currently in an industry where getting drunk off the job can (eventually) get you fired. Mostly because drunkards are potential security threats with a well-proven recipe for developing and exploiting the opening.

Our Christmas parties are as boring as a carbide drill bit.


I'll concede that maybe America is too broad to generalize here but the point still stands that you don't need to completely disallow alcohol to have people not really drunk at basic work functions

It's not. I think there is more acceptance in European culture for that. I learnt the somewhat hard way when I came to the US after a couple of stints in Europe. I used to think nothing of having a beer or a glass of wine at lunch with colleagues. But it did earn me a few frowns in the US. This is almost 18 years ago - so pretty sure things have changed significantly.

It used to be fairly common. Lookup "Three Martini Lunch." When I was in the oil business several decades ago, it was quite common for 2 or 3 of us to ring up a vendor to take us to lunch where we'd have a couple of beers.

I won't say it's unheard of for myself and my colleagues to have a beer or glass of wine at a work lunch in the tech industry. But it's certainly a rare event though definitely more common when visiting Europe.


i know people that work in banking and insurance in london and they claim its pretty common to have more than one drink at lunch.

Once upon a time, most companies banned alcohol completely from worksites, and certainly for company meetings, except for offsites like picnics and dinners and parties.

Social stuff should be banned.

Kind of a step backwards in terms of accountability, no?

Scapegoating alcohol seems like an excuse and really is like babysitting your adult employees.

My view - Drink as much alcohol as you like! And if you imbibe too much, and do stupid things, that shows deficient decision making abilities, and you aren't fit to work here.


Unless you are an alcoholic, and you literally can't control yourself. Then parading out alcohol and then punishing her by firing her for not being able to control herself seems a bit unfair.

That would sound like a case where the employee could disclose her alcoholism as a disability, and request the "reasonable accommodation" that no work events she is required to attend have alcohol. Then, if it can be demonstrated that she's actually required to go to a drinking event, gets trashed and acts an ass, she's got a wrongful termination claim. IANAL of course

Many substance-abuse disorders are not treated as special-accommodation-worthy (in courts often or by HR departments by policy) in the the US. Alcoholism is one such example (Alcohol Abuse Disorder is not a qualifier for disability status without additional presenting symptoms, or exceptional luck during disability determination).

That reality, and the reality of addiction, presents a few problems for the hypothetical employee here:

- Attending work events that do have alcohol may cause them to endure a great deal of hardship (talk to a recently-abstinent alcoholic if you doubt this).

- Addiction has no conclusive test or diagnosis--AAD and other indicators are often not present in people who enter rehab, or in people whose substance abuse is identified as a primary motivator for criminal behavior by courts. This means that "getting trashed and acting like an ass", for "real addicts" (whatever that means, which is a troublesome qualifier to add in and of itself) is difficult to prove to be the fault of the company providing alcohol, and for non-addicts is a convenient out (if provided to the former group).

- "Actually required to go to an event" is another troublesome category. Many events aren't "required" . . . unless you want to get promoted/not eventually get fired in favor of someone who attended. I don't propose some legal solution to this (everything I can think of would effectively be thought-policing), but it's an important ambiguity to acknowledge.

- Even if a humane HR/management department exists to whom the hypothetical employee could disclose their condition as a disability, and even if that department lobbied the employee's managers/colleagues to prevent addiction from being a disadvantage to their career, that would still likely result in either a breach of that employee's privacy or eventual prejudice seeping in (e.g. via turnover inside HR) regardless. Not good.

- If those recourses fail, and the employee ends up before the courts pleading wrongful-termination or equivalent based on their addiction, the (at least state) US court system and arbitration organizations are notoriously inconsistent and prejudiced against claims of addiction as any sort of mitigating or complicating circumstance. A company interested in preserving the autonomy, promotability, and dignity of addicted employees would likely view the courts as something the employee in question should be kept away from for their own benefit.

There are many other considerations.

Now, many of those apply to any uncommon disability condition, and it could be argued that below a certain point a very few employees' accommodations should not ruin the fun for everyone else. Even if you buy that argument, the incidence of addiction/substance-abuse related serious lifestyle trouble—principally at work or in romantic relationships—for very large numbers of people in the US is well documented.

Perhaps it would be better to simply forbid the creation of such situations on the company dime.


I'm not a fan of the prohibitionist policies. Finding people who can't control their behavior is good.

I tend not to drink around work because of the expectation of professional behavior and I'm just uncomfortable around people I have a professional relationship. However, I've been at companies who have cut alcohol because a few people are sensitive. (I'm not referring to those who are alcoholics that have self-discipline issues) It's annoying.


A "two drink limit" fails to account for (1) how alcohol affects people differently since two drinks can make some people sloppy while others will hardly feel it and (2) the fact that alcohol usually only lasts about an hour per drink and many social events last a few hours.

A couple drinks helps get me out of my own head enough to relax with co-workers. After a couple hours, the two beers have worn off and I usually want another one or two to keep my sociability going.

I'd much prefer a policy where everyone gets to decide in advance how many drink tickets they want and perhaps say "these tickets aren't good until X time." This would help everyone to regulate their own intake, and it treats employees like adults capable of managing their own bodies while still addressing the issue of people over-consuming by accident or in an unaccountable manner.


I would argue that creating a whole drink ticketing bureaucracy including a pre-scheduled drink ticket release procedure does the opposite of treating employees like adults. It sounds a lot like kids in a school lunch line.

It drives me nuts when companies let a few bad actors ruin a loose policy rather than addressing the issue with the bad actors, but I know, legally, having a strict, spelled-out policy is safer (easier to defend against lawsuits) legally.


It drives me nuts when companies let a few bad actors ruin a loose policy

At a small or mid-sized company, ½% of bad actors can be one or two or three.

At a company the size of Google, ½% of bad actors can be hundreds or thousands of human liabilities.


A valid point, though I'd argue that that same "power in numbers" of companies like Google means PR can swing just as hard in a positive direction as a result of a generous policy.

I think it's a question of where to draw the line. I'm sure an argument could be made that they should get rid of the bikes on their campuses because a percentage of people will hurt themselves on them or hurt someone else and be a legal risk.


>I'd much prefer a policy where everyone gets to decide in advance how many drink tickets they want

Then you would get people like me, asking for lots of tickets as you can just discard those when you are done but you would not be able to ask for extra ones. At that point, you could just remove the ticket system as it doesn't work anymore


Sure but then if you over-indulge you're on record as someone who (1) requested way too many tickets and (2) wasn't capable of managing their own intake effectively or knowing their limits ahead of time.

The goal is to help responsible adults remain responsible adults after a couple drinks when parts of your brain tell you to drink more than you know you should.

The default of two drinks per night is a good starting point; my point is to let responsible adults decide for themselves ahead of time if more than two would be good for them.


honestly if you have a hard time sticking to two drinks at an event that could affect your livelihood, you probably just shouldn't drink.

we don't need some rube goldberg system of drink metering. we need people to handle their own shit. if they actually behave badly you can always fire them.


A couple drinks helps get me out of my own head enough to relax with co-workers. After a couple hours, the two beers have worn off and I usually want another one or two to keep my sociability going.

If you need alcohol to socialize, then you have a problem and should get help.

That's seriously one of the signs of a problem. Ironically, I'll tell you to "Google it."


There's a difference between socializing for a few hours with work people---many of whom may be new and/or have very different styles---and socializing with long-time friends and family. If you have a bit of a hard time socializing for a few hours with strangers and if a responsible amount of alcohol helps a bit, I'd say you're probably pretty okay :)

A few years ago, I attended my company's happy hours. I was an intern and too young to drink at the time. There was an open bar and more or less everyone was intoxicated. I join a coworker and we start chatting.

Fifteen minutes later, the office manager joins in, interrupting, and starts hitting on me in a pretty blunt way. I enjoy female attention but that was a bit much. I tactfully hint that I'm not interested but she doesn't picks it up so I leave early, a bit salty.

The next morning I arrive to work and see an elevator about to close so I rush to catch it. She was inside! The following three minutes were the most awkward elevator ride in my life. I felt bad for her to be honest, maybe I shouldn't, but it must be so embarrassing when you sober up.


That sounds like the most typical work party story ever. People make romantic advances, often can't judge the reaction correctly and it's awkward afterwards when everybody sobers up.

It's much more awkward the next day after drunk sex in a deserted office though.


I can't even identify when people are black out drunk, for some reason. There's not always a slur, and I probably keep enough distance to not smell it. But I've been surprised when a half hour into conversations people have told me they're drunk. Twice that I recall.

On the flip side, people have made up stories of me being drunk after having 2 drinks, and my having had any drinks at all makes my side of the story have no credibility. No good. Like when a cop pulls you over and asks if you've had any drinks.

So I'm all for getting booze out of the workplace. I'd had my consumption limited to 2 drinks for my past 4 jobs after being fired for saying obnoxious things while drunk. A company holiday party where the tequila was flowing was the only exception, but I kept the volume down that time. I deserved the firing, no complains there.

It's my personality to say obnoxious things, having been raised on dark and vulgar comedy. My only way to joke around authentically now is without drinking, sadly, because of the nature of accusations against people who've been drinking. Just one example, I'm sure other people have personally entertaining activities that they always do but people think they must be drunk when they do it, no matter how sober. Dancing's another one... the more sober I am, the more people ask "bro, what are you on?"

My twitter is a good example of what I feel free to say while sober. Reading it, you'd think I'm always drunk.

I also am noticing after a year on break from drinking that all drinkers are mentally lazy to some degree, and some tell lies assuming that the other party won't notice and I'm likely guilty of that from my drinking days. It's like their memory isn't good so they assume nobody else's is, yet they claim perfect memory.

A little meandering, I know... but overall I think a no alcohol policy would be great.


It definitely sounds like a step in the right direction.

This is from Stephanie Hurlburt's Twitter a while back.

  Ah, game industry culture and drinking.

  I don’t drink. I also feel unsafe being in a mostly-male group when they’re all drinking.
  
  ...
https://twitter.com/sehurlburt/status/999707171381100544

I never drank at work, I don't understand why people do...

When you're spending more time at work than at home, occasionally it's nice to have a beer at work. Don't get me wrong - I'd rather be at home, not working, drinking a beer but it's natural that drinking and work collide when you are working too much and are already stressed.

This is a really good point. A lot of things are going to collide if people are working too much and stressed.

The usual "best practice" advice on avoiding harassment is to not pursue romance at work... but how are folks supposed to do that if they don't have time to pursue it anywhere else? Alcohol might only be a minor contributing factor at that point.


You've obviously never worked in customer service...

I'm joking...well 1/2 joking anyway. (sigh)


Because it's fun, and it's a good way to lighten the mood.

I would have thought "bringing the company into disrepute" would have been enough.

Would be interesting to compare office drinking in other regions.

I've heard stories about Korean chaebols that are hard to believe, but I'm sure there are intense workplace antipatterns worldwide.


In the early 90s, I was told by an IBMer in the US that if he was cought drinking beer in lunch time (even outside in a restaurant), he could be fired, no question asked.

Apparently it was a paternalistic policy that came directly from Watson, who not only banned alcohol during work time including lunch, but also paid the wage on Monday to somehow honder spending it all in alcohol over the weekend.


This kind of mentality exasperates me to no end. I am a heavy drinker (never at work), and I hate it when people blame my behavior on my alcohol level. I always have to correct them, they are lucky I am drunk when bad things happen, I tend to be a very violent and horrible person when sober, for sure the outcome could be much worse. People should take responsibility for their behavior without blaming substances.

I love drinking as much as the next guy, but if you're a "horrible person" when sober, you might be an alcoholic.

You may be more placid when under the influence, but most people are more volatile, more impulsive, and more likely to make bad decisions. Being sober doesn't make people better, but it does make them less likely to do something harmful to others, statistically speaking.

The employees are both behaving like children AND being infantilized at the same time. How do you even get to that point?

Why can't work just be a polite exchange of (various forms of) labor for money? I've been in consulting shops where the liquor flowed. I get it, it's fun but you can't run a large bureaucracy like you can a small tribe. Is that 20% of cases worth the presence of alcohol? Who would leave over removing alcohol from the office? Could that be for the better?

Lastly, I'm not an alcoholic but I have friends who've struggled with it and my heart really goes out to them. Alcohol is everywhere at work functions and I think it's really insensitive. I could live the rest of my life and never have drinks be part of a professional function and be just fine.


> ~20% of cases

What are the other factors. Are there any higher than 20%.


Be willing to bet more than alcohol a common factor would be men being the alleged perpetrator. Another would be the alleged perpetrators are probably in superior positions/title to the victims greater than 20% of the time.

I'd bet that more than 20% are males.

There have to be, but it might be hard to get data, and/or controversial/inflammatory to talk about it. I don’t know if Google will release any statistics on all the cases they know about, and I won’t hold my breath, but that would be pretty enlightening. Things that are likely well above 20% include men being the perp in much larger numbers than the company’s gender distribution (national stats are roughly 80/20 [1]), whether the perp is a higher rank and/or direct supervisor (national stats say this is ~40%, whether the victim was threatened, and what department the people were in.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment#In_the_wor...


Serious question: Does the Chief Diversity Officer include diversity of ideas and experience? Or is it just skin deep like it sounds?

Edit: Lots of up and down votes. Why is this question so controversial? I'd like to see an argument as to why it's an invalid or flawed question.


I work for Microsoft, and the back of my employee badge says: Our Mission; Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

To me, this implies that our engineering organizations, and entire company, need to have an appropriate amount of empathy across a broad spectrum of geographies, cultures, experiences, perspectives, and the like. You only get that by having a diversity of talent, and more importantly, inclusion in your engineering practices.

When I talk about diversity, I usually say; "There are two forms of diversity, DNA diversity, the stuff we usually talk about in terms of color, sex, etc, things you can see, and then there's diversity of perspectives and experiences. You need the diversity of experiences and perspectives. In some cases that's conveniently wrapped in some forms of DNA diversity, but is not exclusive to that".

I don't think the question is at all controversial, and we should not be afraid to openly talk about it.


So what would be the benefits in DNA diversity at all? If you can get a diverse views of perspectives, why bring in the DNA diversity which is going to lead to conflicts as people won't be able to talk as effectively as people who are more homogeneous?

> So what would be the benefits in DNA diversity at all?

Well, this is a pretty contrived example, but IIRC a major company (HP?) made facial-recognition software that couldn't handle people with dark skin.

If there had been people like that on the dev or testing team, perhaps it would have been noticed earlier.


That story is apocryphal. The software in question simply struggled with low contrast images like a dark face in a dark room, which isn't due to racism or employees forgetting that black people exist: it's an inherently hard image recognition problem.

Are you seriously arguing companies should be entirely white and male because then there won't be sexism and racism problems?!

And are you aware that non-DNA differences also create divisions?


> would be the benefits in DNA diversity at all

I would argue there's often correlation between these types of diversity


> Our Mission; Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Did they think about what they said there before printing? Because there are plenty of organizations which we definitely do not want to achieve more (e.g. drug cartels, nazi parties).


I don't think the creators these mission statements are too concerned about the edge cases.

Not really. PR is all about taking the edge off things. Which is why this struck me as odd.

I may disapprove of one's views, but I'll commit my code for their right for better software!

Serious response: Framing it as an 'Or' implies the two are mutually exclusive. They are not. Diversity is fact. The world is diverse in a variety of ways (skin, eyes, experiences, gender, language, nationality, etc.). Inclusion is the action. Equity is the goal.

In the OKR framework, being able to measure your progress towards the goal is important. The real question is, which aspects of people who work for your company do you measure to ensure proper decisions around inclusion to achieve the equity goal?

It's easiest to measure by 'skin deep' factors b/c that is what human beings most easily make poor decisions on (fear, bias, stereotype, self-segregation, NIMBY-ism, etc). It is also required for companies to report to the US government on these factors because of our history of poor decisions (to put it lightly). It is therefore easiest to use that as a metric.

Serious question: If implied in your question that the goal should be equity in 'thought', how do you propose that is measured?


> If implied in your question that the goal should be equity in 'thought', how do you propose that is measured?

OP mentioned "ideas & experience," not "thought," which seems like an intentional framing as something unbounded and immeasurable.

Diversity of ideas could be measured by the average number of options/solutions that are seriously considered (and investigated/piloted) over the course of multiple projects for a team.

Diversity of experience seems somewhat obvious to me. But if you want clarity on this as well, the idea would be to value various types of experiences in the same way that companies value diverse outward traits like gender, sex, skin color, racial identity, etc. It's a balance. You could hire a person of each gender/skin color combination, but if they all grew up in the New England suburbs and all of them went to either MIT or Harvard, you are generally NOT going to have a diversity of experience, even though everyone _looks_ different. On the other end of the scale, you could hire one person from each type of school, big state school, small technical school, ivy league, "public ivy", liberal arts college, bootcamp graduate, etc. Hire people native to your country/culture, and people who come from a different part of the world. But if they are all white men, you are not going to realize as much benefit.

I think it's important to make an attempt to combine all of these concepts to come up with something that approaches the concept of "diversity of thought."


I appreciate your response and respect your idea of trying to combine a lot of aspects to get the goal. I would challenge you on one point though:

> gender/skin color combination, but if they all grew up in the New England suburbs and all of them went to either MIT or Harvard, you are generally NOT going to have a diversity of experience, even though everyone _looks_ different

Unfortunately, there are many stories, points of evidence, and history that say people who look different, but come from the same place and education level DO have different experiences. Race and gender are exponentially powerful factors that can change a person's experience and outlook no matter how wealthy they are or what school they graduated from.


You are correct, I should not have used absolute, either-or terms there ("you are generally NOT ..."). I meant to say that you would not have _as much_ diversity of experience.

Well stated. Until I saw it, I did not realize how many people went from rich (interpretations vary based on your experience, so "comfortable") suburbs and homes to "good" schools to "good" companies and professions. This is my experience, but that tends to be a common path and results in little diversity of "thought" (meaning ideas and experience).

It's become apparent to me that diversity is an ambiguous terms and its interpretation can vary a lot over many factors and time. I am not discounting any definition of it. When it comes up, it feels like people are on different pages with it. It could more prudent to state the definition when it is said.


Precisely. That's what was embedded in the question. It doesn't matter what color people are. It's not meaningful diversity on its own.

What they seem to be doing is judging people based on surface traits, not the content of character. Their approach to diversity is a regression and not good for progress.


I would caution you on taking such an absolute, "zero sum" stance here.

>It doesn't matter what color people are.

I hope you realize the absurdity of this statement in isolation...


What they seem to be doing is judging people based on surface traits

Do you believe that a poor black kid from Detroit is only different in "surface traits" as compared to a rich white kid from Orange County?

Or would you be willing to concede that there may be reliable correlations between some "surface traits" and diversity of life experiences and viewpoints? Demographic analysis of things like voting patterns in the US seems to suggest differences of such magnitude that I doubt you'd find another factor more strongly predictive.


“Equity is the goal.”

I don’t think this is a good goal. Unless you mean equity of opportunity. Equity of outcome is a ridiculously foolish goal in that outcomes will vary substantially and trying to have equity at the end on arbitrary human factors with easy to measure biases (gender, race, etc).

So the goal is not 45/45/10 for gender distribution for all roles. As that is obviously impossible as roles change and then people would need to be redistributed ad infinitum (eg, project managers have “perfect” gender diversity of 45/45/10 today but now the role is changes and split into product owner and product manager. Does this mean that the roles must include the same gender mix?)


Equity and equality are different. Equitable means fair, just, unprejudiced, considerate of all involved, etc. Equality means evenly balanced, identical on both sides, measurably indistinguishable.

I think we want an equitable outcome and that most people (regardless of any other opinion) would actually agree that equality of outcome is not necessary.


I appreciate you making the distinction, but I still don’t think outcomes are the place for equity. My gender example still stands using your clarified definition.

Is it fair that now a sub population has different gender distributions? Is it fair that 90% of programmers are male? Etc etc. I think it is counterproductive and too late to making meaningful changes based on outcomes.

Perhaps if you get to a high enough macro, but even then, I see logical weaknessss in opinions comparing income based on gender because outcome does not, necessarily, mean bias. It’s just easier to measure.


Apologies for my ignorance but what does “45/45/10” mean?

From context I'd guess he means 45% male, 45% female, 10% non-binary.

Is that a real policy for anywhere? How / where do you find 10% non binary from? I don’t think there’s enough people to go around even if you hired every single non binary person in a given city.

I did mean 10% as non/binary, but my numbers were just notional. I should have been more clear.

I think, especially with improved technology, that 10% will be more common. Cynically thinking, it will be easier if there were some specific quota. Gender is probably the easiest protected class to change after religion, so it’s especially sensitive to outcome quotas.


Oh, I see! I wasn’t familiar with this term.

So, this system is used in the United States, right?


The poster was suggesting a hypothetical situation where that is a policy. Very few places in the US have 50/50 gender quotas, and I doubt any have quotas which include non-binary people. I believe they were mocking the idea.

I was not mocking the idea, but giving an example where a reasonable quota led to bad outcomes. While I’m against outcome quotas, I’m firmly against discrimination (including mocking) of people based on who they are.

Male, female, non-binary.

With a high enough sample size, shouldn't equity of outcome reflect equity of opportunity?

Not at all. For instance, if there are innate gender dispositions to certain subjects, then those fields will have a much larger proportion of that gender. There's evidence this may be the case in STEM for instance, which would explain the so-called gender equality paradox.

Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be useful for companies since even google’s 20k population wouldn’t be big enough to clear out all of the confounding variables.

from all websites I'd expect HN to NOT read OR as mutually exclusive

"Does the Chief Diversity Officer include diversity of ideas and experience? Or is it just skin deep like it sounds?"

Well, to nitpick even further, those propositions are logically mutually exclusive.

"Does the Chief Diversity Officer include diversity of ideas and experience [as well as surface traits]?" Or is it [only surface traits]"

Abstracted, could be "(p and q) OR (p and !q)" which is literally mutually exclusive.

No, I'm not usually so pedantic, I just thought it was interesting.


I think that English OR is Logical XOR and logical OR is English "A or B or both" or "A and/or B".

Oddly enough, my use of or seems to violates the very rule it is used to describe.


OR being mutually exclusive is pretty typical in the english language, for better or worse.

I see what you did there. Well done.

To the degree something is deep, it is not shallow, and vice versa. That something is easy to measure does not per se make it less or more shallow.

[flagged]


Or more accurately white, chinese, and indian males.

I don't have any experience with Google in this regard (beyond looking into the Damore case, which is a bit muddy because of the amount of public pressure Google was facing [0]). However, in my experience, diversity programs and officers tend to be about liability and checkboxes; and there is no legal checkbox for diversity of ideas.

Plus, surface diversity is much easier to measure; and you optimize for your metrics.

[0] Ideally a diversity officer would stand up for Damore. But I have no idea what went on behind the scenes of that decidion.


> [0] Ideally a diversity officer would stand up for Damore.

That claim depends entirely on how you interpret Damore's behavior. Tolerance does not and must not require tolerating intolerance [0].

I'm not stating a claim as to whether or not Damore's behavior should be considered intolerance. I don't have a take on that. But without having some opinion on that, you can't claim a priori that a diversity officer is obligated to enable his views.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance


I don't want to relitigate the entire Damore saga. But for the sake of conversation, I will state that my view was that he was engaging in good faith with the diversity program Google was running.

The statement I made in my previous comment does not actually require this however. Even if Damore was actually acting in bad faith, fireing him would still have a chilling effect unless it was thought by every Googler that he was clearly acting in bad faith.

Further, I would excpect a Chief Diversity Officer to understand how perception alone can create a hostile environment, so ignorance of this (or disagreemrnent about the facts of the case) is not a good excuse.


> Even if Damore was actually acting in bad faith, fireing him would still have a chilling effect unless it was thought by every Googler that he was clearly acting in bad faith.

You can't help side effects. If someone is acting in a way that is detrimental to the company, you have to fire them, even if you know it will upset some other people in the company.


"Tolerance does not and must not require tolerating intolerance"

On the other hand, it's rather convenient how much intolerance can itself be justified by simply quoting that and just a bit of rules lawyering.


I feel a proof by induction coming.

> Tolerance does not and must not require tolerating intolerance [0]

I honestly hate how often this is trotted out. Does no one realize that this claim is not based on any evidence whatsoever? Why prefer Popper's claim over Rawls' or Jefferson's?

This is typically used to justify yet more intolerance, and around and around we go.


Especially since in the full context it's a bit more measured. This portion follows what is typically quoted:

"In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force;"

Seems Popper would not have much issue with tolerating Damore, but tolerating things like Neo-nazi marches probably crosses his line.


> Seems Popper would not have much issue with tolerating Damore, but tolerating things like Neo-nazi marches probably crosses his line.

Probably not even then! Neo-nazis are a tiny minority that's suppressed by public opinion. Now if they were to suddenly start gaining political power, then we have a real problem.


>Does no one realize that this claim is not based on any evidence whatsoever?

And yet it remains an interesting thought experiment, doesn't it? Didn't it work on Reddit, in which they found that driving hateful communities out raised the level of discourse? And a possible way to structure society. Hitler himself admitted that had the Nazis not been tolerated, they wouldn't have gained the foothold they did. Not only do I prefer Popper's claim, but I prefer the Frankfurt School's claim too[0]. Which, in my view, stands firmly in line with the democratic functions of society envisioned by such liberals as J.S. Mill for instance.

But it comes down to ideology; it is not a crime nor an intellectual failing to dismiss liberalism on ideological grounds.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18368318


> And yet it remains an interesting thought experiment, doesn't it?

Sure, but that doesn't make it a sound policy for real political discourse.

> Didn't it work on Reddit, in which they found that driving hateful communities out raised the level of discourse?

Or did it simply fuel a growing narrative of censorship and persecution which is driving the counter-PC culture and electing people like Trump? I don't think analyzing this as a closed system is faithful to the point I'm making, because these changes can and do have negative externalities.

> Hitler himself admitted that had the Nazis not been tolerated, they wouldn't have gained the foothold they did.

So basically, had the majority of the country not been sympathetic to Nazi principles, then Nazis wouldn't have gotten elected? That strikes me as absurdly tautological. A minority of people cannot be resist the wishes of a majority via intolerance, and if good people are the majority, then they can safely ignore the minority.

> Not only do I prefer Popper's claim, but I prefer the Frankfurt School's claim too[0].

This claim at that link is pure nonsense: "Tolerance is a democratic principle, since it relies on the idea that nobody has an absolute claim on the truth"

No, simply false. Tolerance is justified by the recognition that all people have intrinsic value ala Kant, that they are thinking feeling beings and that unless you wish to launch your own campaign for genocide against people with whom you disagree, then you should seek to convince them of your version of the truth using non-violent means.

The only time violence is justified is in response to violence. The far left and the far right are both guilty of violating this principle.


>Sure, but that doesn't make it a sound policy for real political discourse.

I can't see why not.

>Or did it simply fuel a growing narrative of censorship and persecution which is driving the counter-PC culture and electing people like Trump?

No. And besides, on the logic that it might make people angry or convinced of their delusional views therefore we shouldn't do it is very poor reasoning.

>because these changes can and do have negative externalities.

In the same way that naive tolerance does?

>had the majority of the country not been sympathetic to Nazi principles, then Nazis wouldn't have gotten elected?

No.

"Only one thing could have broken our movement – if the adversary had understood its principle and from the first day had smashed with extreme brutality the nucleus of our new movement." (A Hitler at the 1933 Nuremberg Nazi Party rally)

"If our opponents had been clever, considering that political weapons were so unevenly distributed, they could have undoubtedly found ways and opportunities to make our success impossible." (J Goebbels, 1934)

"If the enemy had known how weak we were, it would probably have reduced us to jelly. It would have crushed in blood the very beginning of our work" (J Goebbels, 1934)

>Tolerance is justified by the recognition that all people have intrinsic value ala Kant

Not in democratic society; can you point me to which Kantian thinkers (including Kant himself!) whose thought formed the basis of any modern state? Tolerance as we know it emerged only with the emergence of widespread democracy after the French revolution beginning in Western Europe and the American revolution in the New World. Both republics founded on democracy (and therefore tolerance), not a Kantian maxim. As Marcuse said in 1965,

"Moreover, in endlessly dragging debates over the media, the stupid opinion is treated with the same respect as the intelligent one, the misinformed may talk as long as the informed, and propaganda rides along with education, truth with falsehood. This pure toleration of sense and nonsense is justified by the democratic argument that nobody, neither group nor individual, is in possession of the truth and capable of defining what is right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, all contesting opinions must be submitted to 'the people' for its deliberation and choice. But I have already suggested that the democratic argument implies a necessary condition, namely, that the people must be capable of deliberating and choosing on the basis of knowledge, that they must have access to authentic information, and that, on this. basis, their evaluation must be the result of autonomous thought."

>The only time violence is justified is in response to violence.

I disagree, and as I said earlier, it's no crime to disagree with liberal dogma like this. But if we must go this route, what does violence say of structural violence, for instance?


> No. And besides, on the logic that it might make people angry or convinced of their delusional views therefore we shouldn't do it is very poor reasoning.

Good thing that isn't what I suggested then.

> In the same way that naive tolerance does?

Define "naive" tolerance. Seems like you're either assuming the conclusion, or trying to persuade with loaded language.

> "Only one thing could have broken our movement – if the adversary had understood its principle and from the first day had smashed with extreme brutality the nucleus of our new movement." (A Hitler at the 1933 Nuremberg Nazi Party rally) > > "If our opponents had been clever, considering that political weapons were so unevenly distributed, they could have undoubtedly found ways and opportunities to make our success impossible." (J Goebbels, 1934) > > "If the enemy had known how weak we were, it would probably have reduced us to jelly. It would have crushed in blood the very beginning of our work" (J Goebbels, 1934)

Ah, so if they hadn't been sympathetic or they had been able to read minds so as to discern the intentions of Nazi party leaders. Well that's totally reasonable then.

Honestly, precisely what expressions of intolerance do you think would have prevented the rise of the Nazi party? Everything you've quoted is devoid of anything concrete.

> Not in democratic society; can you point me to which Kantian thinkers (including Kant himself!) whose thought formed the basis of any modern state?

Irrelevant. The question is whether Kantian principles entail the relevant conclusion. We are beholden not only to government law, but moral law as well. Or do you think it's ethical or virtuous to violate the spirit of a law while following the letter of the law?

Furthermore, my claim is not that all opinions are equally valid and deserving of equal attention. My claim is that changing opinions by non-coercive means is right. Doxxing, violence, and online mobs are not right way to change opinion.

> I disagree, and as I said earlier, it's no crime to disagree with liberal dogma like this.

Not a legal crime, but nowadays it's certainly a social crime enforced by mob rule.

> But if we must go this route, what does violence say of structural violence, for instance?

That it can and should be alleviated by non-violent means, taking into consideration social inertia, ie. that it takes time for a message to propagate and persuade enough of the public. As Per MLK, violence begets violence. All the most revered figures of effective social change advocated non-violent means.

There is considerable debate whether the terrorism perpetrated by the suffragettes actually helped their cause. They clearly turned much of the public against the cause, and at best, they gained publicity for the cause, which was clearly possible to do via other means.


> Plus, surface diversity is much easier to measure; and you optimize for your metrics.

I think this is key. Until "diversity" becomes so absolutely fragmented that you get back down to the level of the individual (e.g.you need a non-Hispanic Latino coder, who is Christian but not Catholic, was born poor but still got into an Ivy League, must be over 6 feet tall, and her name must begin with "A"), we will continue to burn resources, mental energy, and time on ensuring that we can't get sued.


Non Hispanic Latino ? isn't that a moot point at his point in history un less you ant to go back to the Spanish/French system of race classification

I think Non Hispanic Latino means Brazilian.

It's basically the same role that chief security officers fill at large companies. The point isn't to actually secure anything. The point is to avoid getting sued for not securing things.

You need to get a better chief security officer.

It's controversial because it's selectively applied and advocates for D&I know it.

There are plenty of Asians in tech (men and women) and yet we're always hearing about a "diversity" problem. This is why tech no longer uses the term minority - they use "underrepresented minority" instead.


Why should the representation of Asians in tech reduce the concerns about the under-representations of Blacks and Latinos in tech?

Because factoring Asians (and Indians, for that matter) in to the equation changes the framing of the argument.

Asians are a minority group, but are vastly over-represented in tech, to the point that even white people are under-represented by comparison.

The concern about racial diversity tends to focus on the idea that white hiring managers are subconsciously selective against non-white applicants. This doesn't make sense though when you factor in the minority groups that are actually over-represented.

So what has happened is that the argument has shifted to ignore Asian representation and only focus on black and Latino representation, while still coming to the same conclusion that white hiring managers are subconsciously racist and that the company needs to take corrective action.

The representation of Asians and Indians in tech should not necessarily reduce concerns for other minorities that are under-represented, but should definitely change the way those concerns are framed. The fact that it hasn't suggests that some sort of tomfoolery is afoot.


> The concern about racial diversity tends to focus on the idea that white hiring managers are subconsciously selective against non-white applicants. This doesn't make sense though when you factor in the minority groups that are actually over-represented.

Of course it makes sense. It means that instead of subconsciously being biased against the non white category, they are instead biased against non white non Asians.

That was an easy logical deduction there.


Not really, you can continue down that rabbit hole forever with groups and subgroups. What of the under represented people of [skin color][origin][gender] in [profession]?

Maybe it has less to do with bias and more do to with preference and culture and upbringing and other factors. Consider how much asian parents, for example, push their kids in education and toward certain careers. Or the over representation of black people in sports and music. Or the dominance of women in teaching and healthcare. Etc.


> The concern about racial diversity tends to focus on the idea that white hiring managers are subconsciously selective against non-white applicants.

The concern is far more nuanced than that. It includes concerns about the the rates of representation all through the pipeline, from hiring back through University CS programs to differences in access to high quality primary and secondary education.

The problems are largely understood as being systemic, arising from unequal opportunity and different social signaling to different groups, not solely from the decisions of hiring managers.


Possibly. If you put everybody into two groups "white" and "brown", that could certainly fit.

If you take popular preconceptions/prejudices around "white" "black" "hispanic" "asian", etc, maybe it doesn't match as well.


To me the notion of a need for diversity in a workplace is absurd. Seriously, whats the point? There are and always have been professions dominated by men and those dominated by women. From the perspective of an employer, gender, skin colour or political views should be completely irrelevant when it comes to making a hire/no hire decision. By introducing rules that aim to achieve a 50/50 distribution of e.g. each gender in any field, you're forming up an artificial construct that ultimately results in poorer overall performance (since you had to reject a number of candidates that likely were more qualified for the position in order to reach your equal distribution goals).

>There are and always have been professions dominated by men and those dominated by women. From the perspective of an employer, gender, skin colour or political views should be completely irrelevant when it comes to making a hire/no hire decision.

What you're missing is that many employers don't have the perspective whereby gender, skin color or political views are irrelevant. Biases against gender, race and religion are part of the reason that many professions have been dominated by certain races, genders and religions (although laws have attempted to counteract this effect.)

The point of diversity in the workplace is to force an implicitly prejudiced employment market to be less prejudiced than it otherwise might be, just as the point of labor laws and the minimum wage are to force companies to care more about their employees' welfare than they otherwise would.


>What you're missing is that many employers don't have the perspective whereby gender, skin color or political views are irrelevant. Biases against gender, race and religion are part of the reason that many professions have been dominated by certain races, genders and religions (although laws have attempted to counteract this effect.)

Yes, but you can mitigate those biases with gender/race-blind hiring practices. This seems like a much fairer and more reasonable option than enforcing quotas.


Blind hiring techniques don't do much, for several reasons.

- They only work at the screening stages. Most hiring pipelines conclude with an in-person interview, and that can't be blind.

- People are very good at reading between the lines and can often infer race and gender from education and work history alone (or at least, infer deviations from their preferred norms).

- It doesn't address the problem of industry pipelines filtering against diversity before the applications ever get to you.

- A manager who doesn't want to hire women can just treat a blindly-hired woman badly until she leaves.

- It implies to the company that diversity is something that must be hidden rather than something that should be tolerated or celebrated.

- It implies to applicants that you have intolerant managers who need to be tricked.


There are certainly problems with this approach and it definitely isn't a foolproof way of stopping discrimination, but I'd argue there is a longer and more concerning list of issues with hiring based on quotas.

All I know is gender/race-blind hiring works fantastically for things like music auditions. For technology-based jobs where most of the interview process can be done in writing, over the phone, or over a shared virtual whiteboard or document (for coding or drawing diagrams), there's no reason why everything up to the in-person interview can't be as age, gender, and race blind as possible.


It may not have much value in a coal mine, but I suspect it is highly valuable even from a purely commercial/competitive perspective in industries and workplaces that are creating/maintaining products or services for a large or broad audience.

> you're forming up an artificial construct that ultimately results in poorer overall performance (since you had to reject a number of candidates that likely were more qualified for the position in order to reach your equal distribution goals).

That's precisely where I disagree. Again, in a coal mine you might just want to hire for simple traits that can be easily evaluated per individual (like physical strength). But on the types of teams I mentioned, the diversity of experiences and opinions across the team probably matters as much or even more than the sum of every individual's "talents." I would guess that this diversity becomes more important the larger the team gets and the larger the audience for their products/services gets.

To be clear, I also suspect that more diverse teams are more difficult to hire and manage effectively, and that's probably a big reason that some companies either don't care about diversity or actively resist the suggestion to increase their diversity.


> There are and always have been professions dominated by men and those dominated by women.

Put in the most mercenary way I can think of:

There are and have always also been professions in which hiring decisionmakers screw their own organizations out of talent by ignoring or down-ranking candidates they were bigoted against. There similarly are/have been professions in which talented people with potential to add great value have been driven away by similarly bigoted leaders.

We don't know what might have been, what potential might have been achieved, because of the idiotic/cruel things we've practiced throughout history. Acting like ethical, compassionate, empathetic people seems like a way more pragmatic way than "well, it worked so far, let's keep being bigoted assholes" to see if we could do better in the future.


You seem to be conflating quotas and diversity, and also conflating mechanisms and results. The point of a diversity office or officer is to provide a resource for discussing whether mechanisms of hiring and recruitment are fair, and trying to improve them if they're not.

Once all those studies that send out the same exact resume with the names John, Jane, T'yesha, Jamal, Xiaoying, and Shan Shan at the top find you get the same number of callbacks, then we'll actually be in a situation where people are being hired on their qualifications!


Apologies, I should have been more clear as I intended to point out an example, not a fixed quota, because clearly if you consider diversity when making a hiring decision you inevitably have to end up aiming to hire more people of certain characteristics(and not necessarily qualifications) that fit your long term quota goals.

Besides, what do you mean by fair recruitment? Because personally in this context I view diversity and fairness as contradicting terms, since it would always be more fair to hire a candidate that has higher qualifications and is a good cultural fit over one that wasn't as qualified, but turned out to be a good match when it comes to meeting present quarter's diversity goals?

I believe that basing hiring decisions on physical appearance, race, religion, gender or political views is simply wrong. I recall there was a company that focused on distorting candidates' voices during phone interviews that effectively prevented the interviewers from distinguishing the interviewees' gender. If companies like Google want to actually be more "fair", perhaps they should move in that direction rather than introducing artificial quotas and justifying them with a vague "need for diversity"?


You mentioned "good cultural fit". I have heard many hiring managers mention that they want somebody who is a good fit for the team. And it's very natural, I mean, everybody is going to have to work with this person, right?

This almost guarantees the perpetuation of inequality. We need to stop hiring for that kind of fit.

I'm certain that I have heard of research (by IBM maybe?) that determined that more diversity made teams more productive, but the people on the teams were less happy/comfortable.


> more diversity made teams more productive, but the people on the teams were less happy/comfortable.

Maybe because nobody wanted to socialize with each other so they spent more time doing work?


The resume problem is the inverse, isn't it? The studies I've seen where resumes were having names removed before being sent to recruiters showed a slight bias against white men which is why these schemes always get shut down - increasing fairness decreases (slightly) diversity.

This whole thread is becoming toxic; and I know my karma will be negatively impacted but I have to say:

Diversity of race or gender is not really important when it comes to working by itself.

Diversity of experience and thought is very important when it comes to working.

What I mean is a very middle-class white family and a very middle-class black family producing offspring in a house next to each other and sending their kids to the same school(s): are not going to be functionally diverse enough for what I'm about to say.

Why?: because people who are thinking differently to you are approaching problems from other sides than you are, if you can be civil then you can build your product in ways you could never do alone.

Now; people who were raised in a different kind of culture or social class than you are basically by default: thinking differently.

It doesn't have to be colour, but in the US (from a brit perspective) your class system looks like black people are sandwiched between middle-class white folk and very low-class white folk. So some people might see that 'hiring black folk would increase our diversity of thought'

or.. more likely, they're being judged on metrics and skin colour/gender is an easy metric to game for.

Giving people an equal shot is noble and we should aspire for it. The business incentives come in because your product will be better with divergent opinions and by increasing the talent pool the supply of coders will meet the demand.. (and then they can pay coders less in the longer term)


> To me the notion of a need for diversity in a workplace is absurd. Seriously, whats the point?

There are some advantages. For instance, people with different religions or cultural backgrounds will have non-overlapping holidays, so your office might be open on days that you might otherwise have to close.

Or consider if you're creating a dating app, you would absolutely want a woman's input on how to reduce harassment (see Tinder vs. Bumble).


I think the idea is to counter one artificial construct with another. It's been shown that otherwise identical resumes are less likely to be selected when the name is clearly female or minority rather than a common white male name. That would indicate a hiring bias that has nothing to do with ability. Since it's virtually impossible to fix that bias, a common solution is to introduce an opposite bias. Not perfect, but I've never seen a better solution posited. "Just have better hiring managers/practices" doesn't seem to scale.

> since you had to reject a number of candidates that likely were more qualified for the position in order to reach your equal distribution goals

Your assumption here is that the status quo of hiring is an optimum that must be sacrificed for diversity.

The reality is that every hiring program already uses diversity as a criterion, but unless a measurable objective is set, it will invisibly optimize for the comfort of current employees, rather than job performance.

The purpose of measuring diversity in hiring practices is to remove or control a confounding factor, not to add one.


I generally agree with you. Certainly 50%/50% is insane when the pipeline itself isn't giving you that percentage of qualified candidates based on objective measurements.

However, as other have mentioned, there are already biases to hire people "like you" and offsetting those biases is valuable. Often, I'd argue "culture fit" is an umbrella term used to keep people who are different out.


"There are and always have been professions dominated by men and those dominated by women."

And a lot of that was caused by pervasive discrimination.


I suspect it's controversial because HNers think you're referencing people like James Damore and/or people who wrap themselves in the mantle of "diversity of ideas" when they start making racist or sexist comments.

Is that the kind of "diversity of ideas and experience" you're talking about?


Calm down, nobody said anything racist or sexist. How do you expect to have a discussion about this when you attack people for words that you put in their mouth before they had a chance to even engage?

Damore didn't do that, by the way.


Your question has so much baggage in so few words.

Your premise is that if the CDO’s role doesn’t include your vision of diversity it is “just skin deep”. Not everyone shares this premise, and focusing on this point also makes it sound like you dismiss all the other aspect his role could have (they’re just skin deep after all, right ?)

To get back to yor question, Google has offices all around the world, I find it hard to fault them for lack of diversity of experiences, nor do I think the thousands of people they employ all have the same ideas. I’d actually think it would be harder to find people all sharing all the same ideas.

Or do you have something a lot more specific in mind ?


I don’t remember where I saw it first (reddit, likely), but: have you seen a msle diversity officer?

Two, at two different companies. One had a male/female team, the other just had a guy.

It's controversial because you're conflating diversity in who people are (that they didn't choose, and can't change), vs. what they choose (actions and ideas that can be changed if the individual so chooses).

What's more important is if those values spread from the CDO down to teams, whether he holds them or not. From everything I hear as an outsider, that's definitely not the case.

Doesn't sound skin deep to me. Why do you think it sounds like that?

It’s not an invalid question. It just tramples on a lot of peoples toes.

It is as, unlike people, not all ideas and experience deserve equality.

How is this for controversial? Diversity of ideas and experience could also be interpreted as lack of direction. In truth, "ideas and experience" could cover anything from cultural issues to technical issues. However, I'll point out some ways that "diversity in ideas an experience" could be interpreted, just so you get a feeling for why someone might object to a non-specific label like that.

Elsewhere in the thread, people are talking about excessive drinking on the job contributing to harassment. In the culture where I currently live (Japan), drinking is virtually mandatory. In fact, I once got an official reprimand for not drinking at a company event. Within the Japanese culture, drinking allows you to relax the way your present yourself. If you are drunk, it is acceptable to clearly say what you think, even if it might be embarrassing for others. This may be the only time to provide feedback up the ladder. Additionally, people higher up in the organisation are allowed to be more familiar with those lower down, which is impossible in normal every day work. This develops an honest camaraderie up and down the organisation and without the social lubricant (or excuse is probably a better word) that is alcohol, the work culture suffers.

Now, perhaps we have several Japanese people who have experienced significant success with this corporate culture. Do we want to grant it a kind of equivalent status within our organisation? Or do we want to have a kind of veto that says, "Despite your previous experience and your cultural background, this is a no-go area for our organisation"?

Even when talking about technical rather than cultural issues, there may be times when we need to limit discussion. I may have hired someone with extensive C++ experience into my Ruby on Rails team. Having that experience is really valuable. The C++ programmer can see things from different perspectives and provide solutions that are different that what the average Rails developer has seen before. However, if the C++ programmer suddenly starts demanding that all string processing should be handled in C++, we might want to limit this discussion. The C++ programmer may have lots of wonderful tools and experience to help them with this task, but the bulk of the developers on the team are not going to be able to cope. Potentially every developer on the team has some niche thing that they would like to introduce. Do we really want to provide a stage for all of these ideas, or do we want to filter them first and work on the ideas that seem most compatible with the team?

It is entirely possible that you disagree with my standpoint. I certainly have met a few people who feel that giving every person in the company an equal opportunity to pursue all of their ideas is a good idea. I have not experienced a successful company that embraced that philosophy, however. Leadership is often about focusing on a few ideas and limiting discussion that appear to be going in incompatible directions. As much as I am frustrated when my ideas get shot down without much air time, I recognise the reality of this necessity.

It's also possible that you have a completely different point that you are hoping to make and it was lost on me due to the brevity of your comment. In that case, perhaps it would be better to try to explain your position in more detail.


i would say that at google there's a chance they're including diversity of ideas and experience.

at most companies, we all know that the skin-deep diversity is the only thing the HR department cares about because it's all they're terrified about getting sued over. however, given google's unique corporate culture, i think that they might be forward thinking enough to seek out different perspectives, but probably not in a quota-driven fashion.


You’re getting downvoted because Google and many other well known tech companies are known not to be comfortable places to work if you’re a conservative. Political ideology, like skin color, should not itself be a diversity goal, but the former often reflects differences in mindsets that may be better suited for certain projects or job roles.

there's a lot more to a person's perspective than their political ideology. i imagine at google it'd be advantageous to have people who approached problems with a plethora of cognitive approaches, however. it's difficult to measure such things, of course.

political ideology can't be a meaningful diversity goal anyway, nor should it be. there may not be a "best" ideology but promoting political ideology alone would be a terrible idea because in the current way that diversity is practiced it would require treating ideologies like nazism as on the same table as others.


I find that the mindset can be dramatically different in many cases depending on one's own experience and background. The length of which a company may intercede or donate to a different pool of candidates, as a simple example depends on the makeup from its' leadership down to its' employees.

My parents have always been right-leaning, working class. I, myself am far more libertarian leaning, with a bit of pragmatism. I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't like the political culture present in Google, and do not feel like my ideas would be respected in that culture at all. It emphatically does not mean that my point of view is less valid, but would more often than not be aggressively dismissed in that culture. Not to mention that I'm a cis-gendered, white male, which seems to be looked down on overall in a few of the large, progressive technical companies by itself.

In the end, it does matter. Culture, for good or bad, influences the makeup of a company. I tend to only have literally a couple drinks a month, or less generally not at work. That said, I don't feel there's shame in having a beer/ale/wine at lunch now and then. It should be about personal responsibility and accountability. It also shouldn't turn into a witch hunt without investigation.

Like most things in life, it depends.


Political diversity would come naturally if a company really is trying to get a diversity of backgrounds and experiences because those different experiences are the cause of political differences to begin with. In fact "political diversity" and "diversity of thought" are simply two ways to phrase the same idea.

The problem with trying to actually do it is that in recent times, one camp in particular tends to label the other as "Nazis" who must be crushed out of existence the moment they're spotted, although there are essentially no actual Nazis in the world today. In other words the side that preaches tolerance and diversity the most can't actually handle it and immediately tries to get rid of it by using the most overblown pastiches imaginable.


This reminds me of a company I worked at where they deiced people were spending too much on travel. So they came out with new rules about travel expenses every 6 months until large swaths of people simply couldn't travel (me included).

But the problem wasn't solved at all because the bulk of the absurd spending was caused by people who the rules didn't apply to....


[Googler] This is how I feel when I see an increased emphasis on training. Making a bunch of leaf-node employees like me sit through more simple online training is not going to fix the problem we have (although it can't hurt). It doesn't address the harassment that comes from extreme differences in power and a lack of accountability.

Still, I am cautiously optimistic about today's announced changes.


It's the neoliberal response to everything. Make cosmetic, progressive changes but don't address underlying structural inequalities between groups.

I would say it is the response by any group in power, corporate, politics, whatever.

They want to makes some news they're doing something, but regardless of organization or politics, the rules often don't apply to those in power.


There will be more stories coming out about Google in the coming months, they are notorious for having a whole different set of standards for their super special elite executives.

I don't know any specifics of an event or anything, but I have heard a lot about how none of the rules apply anymore once you get to the inner circles.


I don't understand why the "mandatory" training has a penalty for skipping it. If it's mandatory, it's mandatory.

This isn't rocket surgery; there are all sorts of mandatory training things big companies do, and they are often actually mandatory. For instance, we've worked with HIPAA-encumbered clients where you'll lose access to their network and applications if you don't complete annual security awareness training.

The "docking people in Perf" thing just seems like needless drama. Just require people to do the damn training.


> I don't understand why the "mandatory" training has a penalty for skipping it.

Because penalties for non-compliance are how mandates are enforced; otherwise, they aren't mandates.

What you probably don't understand is really why is the penalty not immediate termination, or termination after a certain period of delinquency, not why there is a penalty, and I suspect it actually is the latter, and the downgrade in internal rating is the immediate and automatic consequence of delinquency (also, I don't know how Perf works, for all I know the stated downgrade may be enough to normally trigger being put on a PIP and terminated if the problem isn't cured quickly.)


I think it's pretty clear what I'm asking.

It is not a norm in other companies to penalize people's performance reviews for failing to complete routine training. What is a norm is that your manager at some point simply demands that you stop what you're doing and complete the training. What would happen if you refused? Who knows? I assume you'd get fired for cause, the same way you would if you deliberately disregarded any other directive. Like I said: the most sophisticated training programs I've seen simply cut off people's access until they complete training (and thus, obviously, if you refused to complete the training, you'd be let go.)

The Perf downgrade is high-drama. For one thing: it sets a dollar price you can pay to not comply! For another, it throws the objectivity of performance reviews in question (there are multiple factors that affect your Perf level, not just this one!).

So, obviously, my question is: why does Google have this weird, elaborate, high-drama mechanism when it could instead just do what everyone else does: the CEO tells the VPs that all their reports need to complete training. The VPs make it happen, or are replaced. Recurse.


> It is not a norm in other companies to penalize people's performance reviews for failing to complete routine training

It's a norm pretty much everywhere to penalize people's performance reviews for failure to perform required job tasks on time, I know of no employer that doesn't do that (or, at least, expect supervisor to do it.) It may not be normal to apply a systematic penalty of a preset value to failing this precise failing (from my experience in enterprise environments, the normal consequence for a wide range of required trainings is a nag email from HR or an HR-owned bot to the supervisor and/or employee with escalating urgency,and sometimes escalating up the org chart, until some point where more formal organizational penalties are imposed, which the supervisor may or may not also use as the basis for ad hoc penalties in performance reviews even if formal direct penalties aren't imposed because the delinquency is cleared before that point.)

> For another, it throws the objectivity of performance reviews in question

Having a defined, fixed, concrete Perf penalty for a particular violation does the opposite of calling objectivity of the rating system into question.


See, when you read my comments and try to infer what I'm saying, you seem to do a pretty good job of it. So, can I ask, rather than nitpicking (for instance, that termination is itself a form of performance-based penalty), that you simply take whatever inference you've drawn and respond to that?

You've put a whole lot of effort into clarifying what it is I'm asking --- well done! I think you've nailed it! --- but you've come no closer to addressing the question I asked.

Regarding drama: again, given only the level of a peer, you don't know whether that's the product of work they've done, or some weird protest they're making against sexual harassment training. Which brings us back to the simple question I asked: why even allow for those weird protests?


> that you simply take whatever inference you've drawn and respond to that?

I rather explicitly did that in my first response, where I both set out what I inferred you were really concerned about and responded (in a speculative manner) directly to that inferred concern.

EDIT: to be absolutely clear—

Inference: “What you probably don't understand is really why is the penalty not immediate termination, or termination after a certain period of delinquency”

Response: “and I suspect it actually is [termination after a period of delinquency], and the downgrade in internal rating is the immediate and automatic consequence of delinquency”


I mean, yes, I guess "I don't know" is a fine answer. It's fine that you don't want to engage, but weird that you want to litigate what the question itself is. But, OK.

> I mean, yes, I guess "I don't know" is a fine answer

Maybe, but that wasn't my answer, except insofar as any answer that lacks complete certainty can be looked at as a form of “I don't know”.

The answer was, phrased an alternative way, “Most places take steps on delinquency in mandated training short of termination, often with varying potential to feed into performance assessments, with termination only as a (largely theoretical, because in practice it roughly never reaches that far) ultimate penalty; Google seems likely to be formalizing at least the immediate consequence of failure, not limiting the maximum consequence of persistent failure; other than the explicitness and implied automation, nothing particularly unusually seems to be going on here.)”


this is a fantastic HN comment chain, I hope everyone has been able to thoroughly enjoy this gem

It's a norm pretty much everywhere to penalize people's performance reviews for failure to perform required job tasks on time

3 of the last 5 full-time jobs I've had were in health care. Which comes with at the very least HIPAA and, depending on the exact type of health stuff you do, possibly other training, every year in order to show compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

I've never been told "if you don't do the training we penalize your performance review". I have been told "if you don't do the training, you don't work here".


Some things are more 'mandatory' than others.

and what if they still do not take the training, fire them ?

Yeah, why wouldn't you? Either you believe it necessary or you don't.

Obviously, yes.

That is, in fact, what mandatory means.
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