> In each of these cases, I brought these issues to HR and senior executives and was assured the problems would be handled. Yet in each case, there was no follow up to address the concerns — until the day I was accidentally copied on an email from a senior HR director. In the email, the HR director told a colleague that I seemed to raise concerns like these a lot, and instructed her to “do some digging” on me instead.
Then, despite being rated and widely known as one of the best people managers at the company, despite 11 years of glowing performance reviews and near-perfect scores on Google’s 360-performance evaluations, and despite being a member of the elite Foundation Program reserved for Google’s “most critical talent” who are “key to Google’s current and future success,” I was told there was no longer a job for me as a result of a “reorganization,” despite 90 positions on the policy team being vacant at the time.
Well there's your mistake. It's like going to the other guy's lawyer saying you're building a case against him. Better go for the jugular because they sure will.
First, the relationship is a merely a meeting of minds. If it's useful for you to be around and they find you useful to be around then you have a job. If that ever stops, it is irrelevant what the past is: you will be gone whether it is by your choice or not. At one point, labor unions were the means to fix companies, but that has long since passed in the U.S.
Second, the term "Human Resources" are perfectly named. A resource is something that is explored, extracted, exploited and expended. H.R. is not your friend. Their job is protect management's goals. You are a resource and fully replaceable.
I do this as well, although I tend to put in in starker terms: the only reason that anyone is giving you a paycheck is because they are getting value in excess of the amount they're paying you. Your job will vanish the instant that value proposition changes. This means two important things:
1) There's no such thing as actual job security. Always have an escape plan.
2) Whatever amount of job security you can wrangle comes only when you consistently appear to be providing value in excess of your compensation.
Also, although I don't usually say this in relation to holding down a specific job, I try to make newcomers understand that nobody will care about what you did 20 years ago. It's what you did yesterday that matters.
What you say about HR is spot on as well. It seems obvious to me, but I'm frequently surprised that it's not obvious to everybody.
If by value you mean political value, yes. If by value you mean return to the company for the compensation, that has nothing to do with anything. If there is one thing I have learned in my storied career is that making your boss happy enough to defend your being there is all that matters. I have seen so much deadweight in a company keep their job merely because they were willing to tell their boss what they wanted to hear.
> Whatever amount of job security you can wrangle comes only when you consistently appear to be providing value in excess of your compensation
It took several years to convince my wife that my job security comes from being able to land a new job, not keeping it. I'm always working with new libraries and technologies, staying in-front of (or at least abreast of) what's currently hot. Recruiters are always trying to poach me. Amazingly enough, I landed in a job where I both get to keep my education going and implementing newer technology and my boss likes me. I am coming up on five years, but I know that could change at any moment if pressure were to come down from above.
> What you say about HR is spot on as well. It seems obvious to me, but I'm frequently surprised that it's not obvious to everybody.
Because it's not against the law for companies to lie to employees but it is against the law for you to lie to your companies. I've been in big companies and small companies. They all tell you H.R. is there to help you, to make things better, to work out issues. If you're someone the company wants, H.R. may even work on your behalf (after the manager approves). It really nails you sideways when you've had it good for years to then have the company suddenly turn on you. When you are made to feel as though you are unjustified for breathing in the company's air. It's a huge shock.
I experienced this reality check in grad school when I summered as an associate project manager at one of the large U.S. automotive manufacturers. I sat in on hiring as well as meetings deciding a firing.
In one case, two final round candidates for a position were both female. Both were highly competent candidates with equally impressive resumes. The less attractive candidate performed markedly better though. I'll let you guess who was hired. (What was surreal was the discussion that took place when deciding between the candidates. Everyone wanted the more attractive candidate, but of course, saying so would be crazy. So, instead, the pretext became 'cultural fit'.)
In one case where someone was let go, the rational given was merely one that presented itself as a means to get rid of someone that a director had wanted to fire for awhile.
Can you elaborate?
The word 'appear' should be bolded. I'll point out another thing which is the amount of effort needed to manage you is even more important than that.
Why is that? If you work at a company you enjoy and admire that treats you well and compensates you well, its quite natural for us as humans to feel invested in the thing.
You can't both try and empower employees to feel ownership while also making them feel wary. Which is exactly what Google is doing.
In a country with actual labor protections the way to protect the companies’ interest is often dramatically different.
Note: genuinely curious as to your viewpoint. Not sure what my own opinion is here yet...
In either the Netherlands or Japan (the two countries I have experience with), it either costs a lot of money, or is nearly impossible, respectively, to fire any permanent employee. So HR’s job would be much more focused on either getting the employee to leave of their own volition, or make sure their problem is resolved.
I like how you separated those 2 points. At first glance, it seems redundant. However, like you say, it's not enough to be useful, you need to be perceived as useful, too.
P.S. Is it me or did this post stay on the first page less than a discussion with no comments and barely a handful of votes [The Bones of Marianna]? It has at least 2-3 times more votes and comments than any topic on the front page in some of the shortest time yet it's relegated already to the bottom of the second page.
The immense leverage a company has over an employee, especially when made clear, such as in layoffs or changes that are not conducive to the workforce enforced by management, leads people to rationalize this lack of security and control by creating control in the form of a narrative, that the company cares about them and they should recognize and respect that caring.
Most of the time it's a bunch of people following instructions/policy, like gears in a combine harvester. If you are in the way, you get run over.
I am not suggesting it’s an organised voting ring or anything like that but it is noticeable that any anti-Google sentiment that gets upvoted in European or East Coast hours gets pounded as soon as the West Coast wakes up.
The only way you fix something like this at the executive level is to develop leverage on another executive who can change things and then using that to make them do so.
It is sad. It is wrong. It is dysfunctional. But as far as I can tell the only people that survive these sorts of things are the ones that "play dirty."
Personally, I value my integrity over this kind of gamesmanship and just move on to some other company when I can.
Legally I believe companies cannot retaliate in those two circumstances (harassment and discrimination), but of course nobody is going to enforce that outside of the expense and hassle of suing them if they do actually retaliate.
Any advice for this circumstance?
And yes, absolutely, even large publicly-traded companies still have bosses that will fire employees because "it isn't working out" (which is the aggregate signal in the neural net with inputs such as "I don't like this person," "I think my job is harder because the company employs this person," "I believe this person's presence at the company is bad for the company," etc.). The difference between large and small companies is that large companies have more to lose if a termed employee lawyers up (and more likelihood a termed employee will lawyer up, because more lawyers will be willing to take a case that has a big-name defendant in the case name).
This is yet another scenario where the question "What are the incentives of the actors in this story" can be applied.
It is also HR's responsibility to step in when someone fills a room with employees of one race and asks others to repeat stereotypes to them. Or, to ensure the company follows whistleblower statute.
should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.
I would submit that this is really their ONLY job. As in “you had only one job”.
You are always taking a big EV- gamble if you actually believe that HR is there to help you. If you experience adversity at work there is no help for you, income is the EV+ bet.
Hearing about "Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy" was particularly chilling.
I bet it’s still on the backup tapes. So when slapped with a court order it will be an order of magnitude more expensive for them to disclose.
Wow this literally sounds like an episode of The Office (S1 E2)
Definitely not the most damning thing in this article but the one that really jumped out for me.
Can’t even wrap my mind around why someone thought this would be a good idea
We can have a fun discussion on whether such activities are constructive. But it seems very unfair to paint Google as a prejudiced organization for carrying out a diversity exercise that is explicitly recommended by organizations who specialize in this field. The fact that this exercise was cherry-picked and presented without context, makes me wonder what else in the article is being painted in an unfair light.
"Come up with list of groups that we have stereotypes about (AfricanAmerican, gays/lesbians, disabled people, athletes, women, etc). You can tailor this to the class.
2. Divide the class into small groups and give each group one of the
3. On big paper, let the groups generate all the stereotypes they can
think of for that group (encourage them to be honest, say what they
hear about these groups). Then discuss (and list) the source of that
stereotype, how it's reinforced, and the effect it has"
4. Let each group put up their paper and read their stereotypes and the
other categories to the group.
5. End with a large group discussion of what they can do to end
stereotyping (i.e. educate themselves, take courses, get to know
members of the group, join an organization, etc)."
The site  says the "diversity exercises listed below are geared toward college students, faculty and staff." Out the door, they're being mis-applied.
The PDF  is attributed to the "Office of First-Year Programs Northern Kentucky University". No names, let alone specialists.
For an organization (Google) claiming to be scientific about its decision making, they seem to have misapplied a program with a propensity for being abused, put it in the hands of someone without "a background or expertise in facilitating exercises that may be culturally sensitive," and retaliated against individuals who complained.
This is worth calling out.
I was mostly responding to the parent comment which stated: "Can’t even wrap my mind around why someone thought this would be a good idea". I'm not endorsing this exercise myself. But given the above source and purpose, I can wrap my mind around why a reasonable well-intentioned person might think this was a good idea.
This is poor reasoning.
2) You uncritically examined the diversity activity.
There is a large difference between deftly running an activity like this and horribly running an activity like this. The undertones of the original post is that this was handled poorly.
I would hope that here on HN, people would recognize that uncritically accepting 'best practices' or making an 'appeal to authority' is insufficient.
> You uncritically examined the diversity activity
Your post assumes that the people running the organization are capable of critically examining diversity and inclusion related matters. Sometimes, people are best off acknowledging that something is completely outside of their area of expertise, and deferring to the advice given by specialists. I certainly do this very frequently, when it comes to advice given by my doctors or lawyers.
If you wish to critically examine any and all advice you come across, more power to you. But you don't get to call someone out for being prejudiced when they are literally following the advice given to them by specialists who are trying to promote diversity and inclusion.
> There is a large difference between deftly running an activity like this and horribly running an activity like this. The undertones of the original post is that this was handled poorly.
There is no details or explanation in the article whatsoever, providing support to the conclusion that the activity was run horribly or poorly, and not simply following the exercise instructions given. I would hope that here on HN, people would avoid jumping to conclusions based purely on conjecture.
You did not engage with my first point. I agree that sometimes people are best off deferring to experts. In this case, we have no idea who that is. The University of Houston is far too generic. I would want to know are any of these people Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPoC)? If so, does they or their viewpoint match up with other specialists in this field?
^Getting a map of the territory and vetting your resources are absolutely things anyone should be capable of doing, especially anyone at an organization of Google's scale and with its resources.
"you don't get to call someone out for being prejudiced when they are literally following the advice given to them by specialists"
1) I did not call you prejudiced. You seem to have inferred that.
2) In the general sense, if someone is wrong/prejudiced/racist, it doesn't matter who the advice is coming from, it can and should in fact be point out so that it can be learned from.
As for your last quote of mine--I said "undertones" and you ignored that. Perhaps your inference based on the author's writing is different. Based on my experience, I read those undertones as a diversity exercise done poorly.
My larger point is not that the exercise is great and should continue to be used. My larger point is that the exercise is something that a reasonable and well-intentioned person could have chosen, in a sincere effort to promote diversity and inclusion. This seems to be a point worth making, given the parent comment of "can’t even wrap my mind around why someone thought this would be a good idea".
When I first read the linked article, I had a similar shocked reaction. Knowing the origin of the exercise, and its purposes, is very valuable context that the original article should ideally acknowledge.
Wait, why not? Why is this appeal to authority iron clad? Why is this authority better than any other? If I claim to be a "specialist who [is] trying to promote diversity" and I am doing bigoted things, where does that leave my authority?
I don't believe defending an appeal to authority by asserting that your authority is correct is a sound line of reasoning.
"Just following orders" does not absolve one of responsibility.
If I "listen" to the advice of a specialist to call an African American the n-word, and then I scream the n-word repeatedly in front of others, then those people have the right to call me prejudiced. The onus is on me to prove my lack of prejudice, not on my accusers. The alternative is enabling racial supremacists to hurl vitriol so long as they "do a bit of Googling" and supply a PDF that says "expert says epithets are ok!"
Do you know the difference between authority and morality?
To understand the pathological behavior if megacorporations, look to the law under which they operate.
That's also how a company trying to do its best to cover the sometimes ambiguous intent of diversity law will often interface to academia, so it's a fair approach in this context.
(Remember, critically examining a diversity activity rather than doing what academia guides as best practice can open a company up to more liability than the opportunity to "defer to authority" on the topic. "We didn't, in our opinion, think this approach was best so we trusted our guts and didn't do it" is a much worse defense in a labor-practices case than "We followed the program as set forth in such-and-such university's diversity exercise policy handbook").
Agree that it provides cover for an org to defer to experts and best practices.
Hard disagree on the "fair approach" part. An outside individual examining this activity can be better than an organization simply trying to cover its legal bases.
Yeah and the guy who invented the lobotomy was awarded a Nobel Prize. Following the advice of academics is not a license to take off your ethics hat.
... but it makes for great legal cover.
(In a sense, it even worked in the Nuremberg trials---basically everyone tried was executed, but the entirety of the German army and the civilian populace who supported the Nazi party were not, even though they, too, were "just following orders").
I think they would have even been acquitted on the charges of criminal conspiracy if they used that argument.
(It would make sense to me that this exercise is helpful in a time and context where people are open about segregation, and you want to train children out of absorbing it from their culture. Corporate diversity training is a wholly different context: if you have employees who do not already believe that segregation is bad and do not actively want to prevent unjust discrimination, fire them or at least prevent them from managing or interviewing people. No hour-long training is going to make your racist boss suddenly realize that racism is bad.)
This exercise seems like a much more extreme form of it, where you're encouraging people to say stereotypes about actual people who are in the room. Is there any academic study saying that it works? Or is this just something on a .edu website?
(And aren't there studies showing that if you make people listen to stereotypes of a group they belong to being unintelligent, they'll perform worse on standardized tests?)
(It turns out that conflict won't necessarily arise in that kind of situation, but that it's exceedingly easy for a bad actor (such as the experimenter herself) to manipulate the groups into hating each other. Reference https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/apr/16/a-real-life-... )
It doesn't matter that the exercise is recommended or designed by specialists in the "field" when the entire "field" is wrong-headed and backwards in the first place.
The field of diversity studies (grievance studies) serves only to divide and exacerbate the very problems it identifies while ignoring actual solutions.
The justification for the field and its methods consists of a set of assumptions that are intently racist, sexist and divisive. This is bad enough, but then the internal logic guiding the field, built upon these initial assumptions, is weak at best.
Ultimately the diversity mafia is able to throw its weight around unimpeded because people are afraid that if they criticize it or its methods they will be slandered as racist or sexist. It is driven by the clear benefits it gives to people who can claim membership in certain classes, so of course they have a clear incentive to endorse and spread its divisive and unproductive rhetoric and methods.
But again, the main point isn't the diversity exercise. It's the way his complaint about the exercise was handled.
If you assign people randomly to labels that are supposed to be disjoint from their attributes (but you use the pejorative names of real attributes), there's a non-zero chance you'll randomly assign someone to the group named by the pejorative version of an attribute they have.
For others, identity has been deconstructed into a series of theoretically independent (believe it or else) variables where each option is totally okay. Gender, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic background, physical disabilities, mental "challenges," and so on, along the axes of oppression. That's how people divide out for that bunch of folks and apparently, you had better play along. The "I know you don't like to ask questions" bit is bleakly ironic.
However not everyone has the opportunity to be thought of that way by others. When you say "axis of oppression" well, that's a loaded term for an odious situation, but that odious situation really exists. Who you may choose to sleep with is none of my business unless 1 - one of us wants to go out with the other or 2 - you are a friend/colleague and get married or have some other life event for which I can be glad for you. That's not how the world actually works, so calligraphies attention to it helps those of us who are not (say) gay appreciate the difficulty others have and try not to make things worse (at least that's the hope).
The existence of oppression doesn't make you some sort of oppressor, but don't you want to have sympathy for your fellow humans? We are all at a disadvantage some of the time.
I"ve literally been on both sides: I was born in a country where I was legally of the wrong hereditary background. When I came to the US I was magically received as "a white guy". That's great: I get to define myself by ice cream preferences etc and I see nothing wrong with that. I notice I get a pass for certain screw ups and am taken more seriously than, say, my far more educated girlfriend. Do I wring my hands over it? Certainly not! But I do recognise that not everyone gets the same chance.
It isn't about sympathy, it is about looking at a person as more than the just the fill-in-the-blanks set of labels. People aren't just some combination of tick marks in the privileged-or-not checklist. Saying that someone who who chooses to view the world as more than that necessarily lacks sympathy is ... kind of crappy.
And yet here we see people (in the article, which is what we are discussing) reduced to just "homos" or "Brown people." People are more than that.
In which case one would have wanted to have those people roleplay as minority identities.
The writeup's phrasing is definitely weird, if accurate. Not sure why people of color would need to be exposed to what it's like to be treated as "brown people"?
Then again... given the logic behind most HR training, I'd be unsurprised if someone misunderstood diversity training guidelines and instead tried to put people in "their groups." facepalm
Wikipedia has it as even broader than my use: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person_of_color
I've generally heard it as either "non-white", "non-white, with emphasis on 'brown' skin tones", or "non-white and not covered by a more specific group" in common real world use, depending on the context.
This article doesn't actually contradict that, since random selection will put some in their "appropriate" category.
So, either that, or the person conducting the exercise totally misunderstood it.
Why it’s wrong is debatable. But at least for me it’d be wrong because honestly... that would drag up a lot of psychological trauma for me. Like “I need to take some time off work” bad.
Even if you can predict who that will happen to.. and you try to account for it.. there is no margin of error here that’s acceptable, especially when the material in question could be completed another way.
So yeah. This is a really, really bad look for the Googs here. :(
If you spend 10 seconds on Blind you'll find the most out of touch thought processes with regard to race, religion and sexuality from employees at big Silicon Valley tech companies. Very different from the general population, not forward thinking.
IDK about SV tech companies, but I don't think it's accurate to characterize the general population as "forward thinking" on those issues.
And you could extrapolate that I’m also referring to the bay area
It was quite the scandal: https://nypost.com/2016/07/01/elite-k-8-school-teaches-white...
It sounds like something out of Kalanick's Uber or Neumann's WeWork.
I worked there and can't really imagine that happening at work, but the article rings pretty true in general so I don't have a reason to doubt it.
The fact that the author frames this, without context, the way he did seems dishonest.
"The first member of each group should now display the card so that the small group can see the identifying word. During the next three minutes, the remaining group members are to take turns expressing stereotypical remarks about the category of persons named by that sign. The remarks do not necessarily need to be reflective of opinions held by the group members but may reflect things they may have heard or seen growing up in your family, at school, at work, or in the media."
You can certainly make that choice for yourself, but the system will not reward your behavior with promotion to a position of power where you get to call the shots on whether trainings like this are held.
"The gay guy who wouldn't go into the room we labelled as 'for homos' is such a bigot for not Going Along"
This diversity exercise was so poorly conceived it was used as a plot for a mainstream sitcom. Evidently, NBC thought that - even for mainstream television - the exercise is enough of a farce that most of their viewers would see it as such, and find humor in it.
If a company is so spineless and devoid of morals as to gate promotions against such a poorly-thought exercise, maybe it's not the most worthwhile promotion to have on a resume to begin with.
Easy. I'd quit.
In an ideal world companies like these would be arbitraged away, so to speak, as the people who decided to quit when presented with this stupidity are presumably smarter/more intelligent compared to the ones that decided to stay and play the whole charade, so the companies hiring those smarter people would in the long run be more efficient i.e. more profitable compared to the original companies which went down the "stupid diversity training" way.
Again, this is what would happen in an ideal world. The problem with companies like Google is that they're de-facto monopolies so there's no way for the market to arbitrage them away in the foreseeable future.
Guess what we used to call this kind of thing:
"...the session is held, ostensibly, to benefit the target, by eliminating all traces of […] reactionary thinking. […]s resisted this at first, because […] conflicted with the […] concept of saving face, but […]s became commonplace at […] meetings during the […]'s due to public popularity"
That episode is just asking for a huge legal and PR blowup.
Bing continues to operate and censor in China, but nobody bats an eye. But people don't encourage boycotting MSFT because of it. Apple Maps works in China too. China is a substantial market for Apple. Apple keeps removing Apps on the behalf of the Chinese government (recently removed an App used by Hong Kong protestors), and on iOS it is almost impossible for a non tech user to install apps outside of app store.
I think what all this will do is encourage companies to refrain from things like "Don't be evil", since once you do that the geanie is out of the bottle, and you won't just be compared to your peers, but be held to a substantially higher standard.
As for now one of the few companies I have the desire to work for is Apple due to their stance on privacy - though I find it difficult to completely respect them due to their stance on China, which is entirely conflicting with their western stance regarding privacy and ethics.
But I have serious doubts, and it's not even really the default mantra of human nature or any of that jazz, more so just the fact that large-scale international business is so nuanced due to the differences in cultures and beliefs that I don't see the simplicity of having one side versus another working out very well in practice.
The getting paid a lot is to entice people to do the mental gymnastics necessary to pretend what they do isn’t mere adtech.
I am glad google is paying big money for this. Business could just be business, but virtue signaling is just too tempting to stop. Because it makes a cause for oneself, make it self-righteousness and tragically heroic. Now they are big enoguh and lost all that gold child status, they want the old style business back.
Don’t be evil, said the crowd. Your words are your liability.
That said, it's a matter of time until an Apple CEO looking for a way to juice the quarterly numbers finds a way to put that data to work...
But since the introduction of the Mac, a common and arguably justifiable attitude towards Apple by a lot of people has been that "the only difference between Microsoft and Apple is size".
A lesson on how to fire somebody you disagree with. You need paper to show a series of bad behavior, but because there is no prior bad paper you deliberately produce it moving forward to use as a weapon.
I have been through this myself. A manager at a prior company was very unhappy with my periodic separations for scheduled military training. He mentioned that scheduling such separations from work was harming my career and would immediately follow that with some excuse to justify my near termination. Those are illegal communications.
I ignored this for a while because I loved my coworkers. He must have finally brought his frustrations to HR for action, because suddenly one day the negative communications stopped and the formal written documentation started. Somebody had educated him on the lawful approach. I finally just left and found work elsewhere.
Did you have not have recourse along those lines? (or maybe not in the USA?)
Just because there is a legal recourse doesn't mean that everyone is going to go down that road. Companies that don't "do the right thing" ultimately get punished by attrition of employees (and customers) deciding to pick up and move on.
Looked into it a bit. Discovered it was illegal under US law, but as far as I could tell the best case scenario is that they would be required to re-hire me in the event of termination and possibly give me back pay.
I sent an email to all my coworkers explaining what had happened and listed the phone number for the nearest regional NLRB office. Then I quit.
Still have some doubts about that decision. The company culture had made me to feel like I was doing something shameful either way so my emotions were a little all over the place at the time. I'd had a little more resolve I might have "played it smart" instead of blowing things up but the company was honestly too much of a juggernaut to be remotely effected by any action I took.
Also, it wasn't the company that failed in this regard. It was specifically the manager. Without evidence either way though clearly a conflict had occurred and HR would have to make some determination. If I were in the position of HR I would have educated the manager on the proper way to administrate their concerns to cover the company, which is what I suspect happened.
Since leave, disability, and discrimination in general are hard to prove for all parties involved typically the biggest threat isn't immediate legal consequences. More concerning is reputational harm should something like that could be exposed. Many large companies offload managing these responsibilities unto external contracting vendors to ensure both the company is entirely insulated from malfeasance and the employee is fully protected.
Sidenote: the fundamental problem with Google's performance review process is that you get to choose who reviews you, and nobody chooses to get reviewed by somebody they quarreled with. As a result, claiming you had good performance reviews is more or less meaningless. It really just means your manager liked you. It says little about how good you are at working with others.
The only people who seem to take 360s seriously are engineers who are usually too competitive with each other to review someone fairly. And that is a major detriment to team cohesion.
This is why engineers are so powerless in most organisations, this crab mentality. Members of other professions always present a united front to outsiders and deal with matters internally. It’s too easy for management to divide-and-conquer engineers.
Except this isn't true at all.
Your manager reviews you. Other people write feedback (you choose these people, though people can write unsolicited feedback for you). Your manager should be obtaining a holistic view of your work rather than just relying on the solicited feedback.
Further, there is an oversight process where managers must justify their ratings to other managers. This attempts to prevent the "your manager likes you so you get a good review" problem.
I’m not American, but...
Dude is a politician:
“Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine.”
He knows of the anti big tech sentiment right now, Liz Warren “break’em up” and all that. This piece is coming out at a very convenient time where the media is hungry for yet more scandals at Google, it’s sure to get the author’s name talked about.
“Enter the Chinese market in 2006...users were getting more information than before, even if there was censorship of some topics... In China, the government not only demands full access to a company’s user data and infrastructure...”
I don’t believe Google pulled out of China just not to be evil. I believe they did so to avoid feeding Baidu with even more expertise than they already had, given the already cross-pollinated rankdex/pagerank algo.
“...in December 2017, Google announced the establishment of the Google Center for Artificial Intelligence in Beijing”
Given the feedback loop of technology flowing military->private sector->military and the vast amount of Chinese nationals acquiring American expertise and returning to China or Chinese gov-controlled biz poaching talent from the US (see Andrew Ng) I wouldn’t be surprised if the US Gov instructed Google and others to open such facilities in China as a way to “fight back”. This is a tech arms race just as hypersonic weapons are.
“...I returned home to Maine. It’s where I was born and raised, and where I was taught basic values like the importance of working hard, standing up for what is right, and speaking the truth. Sharing my story with my neighbors and my family has helped me understand why I was so often in conflict with the company’s leaders as Google changed.“
That paragraph is sure to touch the hearts of many of the voters in the state of Maine which the author is a candidate for the 2020 elections. I trust he’ll use his considerable wealth, accumulated over the 11 “conflicting years“ as a Google exec to fund his campaign.
PS: That diversity exercise is grotesque.
To be more specific, he left Google and is now trying to run for senate, during the election cycle that is about to start. Which makes this Medium post boosting his name id very timely.
Google essentially was becoming an arm of the US State Department. With Schmidt and Jared Cohen saying things like "What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century, technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first". That seems somewhat benign but then it crosses into Google directly helping the US government drumming up support for Syria air strikes by putting links to government propaganda right on front/search page.
I often wonder what Larry and Sergey really think of Google now. Is this the company they dreamed Google would become? Are they proud how their "child" has grown.
But it is a partner, which is bad enough.
Larry and Sergey have about 45% voting power (Eric has the rest of the majority) and huge soft power in Google. They are absolutely happy with their "baby" because they choose every day allow and did everything Google does. They could end any project they don't approve of.
> Ah, he comes excited.
> Sir, my need is sore.
> Spirits that I've cited
> My commands ignore.
The folksy tone at the end had me expecting some kind of agenda on behalf of the author with writing the article. Lo and behold, she's a political candidate.
The whole article feels like someone trying to control their past narrative as they preprare to enter public life. She never 'left' for ethical reasons - she was fired then offered a crappy role.
The article is written by a person named Ross, the picture looks like someone male-presenting, and the Medium bio lists them as “a husband”.
Whatever do you mean by “she”?
An unfortunate fact that catches many by surprise is that bullying is not against company policy in some of the FAANGs. In fact, some of them were founded by bullies and have a culture that glorifies such behavior.
See video evidence of Bill Gates. 
I believe FAANG is a term coming from the financial world about high-performing tech stocks in the '10s, and thus included Netflix but dropped Microsoft as it was doing badly in that time period.
I've also seen GANDALF (google amazon netflix dropbox amazon linkedin facebook), but dropbox probably doesn't belong in that list. There's plenty of backronyms, but one ends up just hitting critical mass.
Or maybe it’s because MS is seen as uncool. A bit like IBM.
Interesting, do you know from what program/documentary this excerpt was taken from?
Bullying is targeting an individual repeatedly and for petty reasons. Gates telling what I assume are senior managers to shove bad ideas is not bullying; that's how management is supposed to work.
It is video that is on topic. Does Bill Gates' donating billions change something about how he was as a CEO to get those billions? What if it were Steve Jobs donating billions?
I don't know what I am missing here.
This guy VPs. He's making it sound as if they cured cancer. What google did is agree to the law in China, and then started to break it. Those are horrible laws, but those were rules of the game from day 1.
Google did that _purely_ for PR - they could've just shutdown their service, instead of starting to break the local laws, they suddenly disagreed with.
What Google did which such an horrible execution, is made Chinese government even more paranoid and destroyed any trust in USA tech companies.
Google made a half-hearted show of flouting preexisting Chinese authoritarianism only to backtrack shortly thereafter when the cameras were off and the press/government had moved on.
An interesting point of comparison is Facebook of all things. For all of their faults, Facebook could not come to an agreement with the CCP respecting expression and human rights, and so chose to not do business in China. Yet in mainstream sources, the vitriol directed at Facebook is quite a bit more intense than that directed at Google. (And a lot of the hate directed at Facebook is frankly laughable compared to what Google has done.)
I don't even use Facebook (although I'd say I'm paranoid about both companies), but at least Zuckerberg &co. have some skin in the game when standing for their values.
(Almost as much skin in the game as those WhatsApp folks who sacrificed over a gigabuck over their disillusionment at what Facebook were doing to their creation.)
Other thought: the author is either extremely cynical/manipulative for writing a seemingly earnest polemic against Google in order to garner sympathy from the public, or he's genuinely a true believer who is a bit naive and would get steamrolled upon entering the US Senate.
> Zuckerberg effectively closed the door to China in March , when he announced his plan to pivot Facebook toward more private forms of communication and pledged not to build data centers in countries with “a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression.”
I don't really understand US tech companies that trust China. Especially after the CPC's operatives were caught fishing in Gmail accounts for political dissidents.
In my mind at-least, I no longer reply to Google recruiters or consider Google as a respectable employer anymore.
I would say about half of the engineers that I personally know would never consider working for Google. But they largely reached that place years ago, so I don't think that more recent articles had anything to do with that.
Baloney or not, I've got grads from the last 3 class years telling me this.
Also, I'm specifically talking about Google. Not any other FAANG.
Google is seen as a place to park yourself at a high salary, not have any responsibility and not get much done. Almost all of them interned at Google at some point and that's how their internships went too.
Hiring seniors is tough and not a lot of companies want to pay market for them when they can get fresh meat for the feature factory and see if they get good on their own in a year or not.
It's extremely unfortunate, but for me the solution is to not work at places with hundreds+ of engineers.
- They protect the company from being sued.
- They fire you.
Anecdotally, I've also seen people complain of harassment when e.g. someone complemented them on their looks when wearing a bikini at a company event in Hawaii. So while I in general have no sympathy for HR, they do end up in such bullshit situations from time to time.
But yeah, 100% of their responsibility centers around protecting the company, and 0% around protecting the employee _per se_.
Not really relevant to the story, but this was always a lie. The reason that China hacked Google had nothing to do with spying on activists. It’s a cover story for a counter-intel op.
China hacked the “PRISM”-like feature in order to see which of their spies had been burned, based on whether or not the US government had wiretaps on those accounts.
Google employs good engineers and politically powerful people. There are consequences for a company that does that when they lose the trust of those individuals.
"Although the causes and the implications are worth debating, I am certain of the appropriate response. No longer can massive tech companies like Google be permitted to operate relatively free from government oversight. As soon as Google executives were asked by Congress about Project Dragonfly and Google’s commitment to free expression and human rights, they assured Congress that the project was exploratory and it was subsequently shut down.
The role of these companies in our daily lives, from how we run our elections to how we entertain and educate our children, is just too great to leave in the hands of executives who are accountable only to their controlling shareholders who — in the case of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Snap — happen to be fellow company insiders and founders."
Personally, having worked at a big tech company, I couldn't agree with him more.
Or that even if he is, how much reach will he have anyway?
> It was no different in the workplace culture. Senior colleagues bullied and screamed at young women, causing them to cry at their desks. At an all-hands meeting, my boss said, “Now you Asians come to the microphone too. I know you don’t like to ask questions.” At a different all-hands meeting, the entire policy team was separated into various rooms and told to participate in a “diversity exercise” that placed me in a group labeled “homos” while participants shouted out stereotypes such as “effeminate” and “promiscuous.” Colleagues of color were forced to join groups called “Asians” and “Brown people” in other rooms nearby.
I actually listened to a great podcast recently that expresses why this might be, and the trick is not to demand more interaction but to give everyone an opportunity to write thoughts down first. Then the differences sharply decrease.
What this shows me is an unfortunate lack of education in recent sociological research, but also a lack of curiosity to pursue. Weird for Google.
It is a "see how it feels to be discriminated against" exercise. You can argue the outcomes, but you certainly can't argue the intentions. It's clearly aimed at trying to make people understand what it's like to be discriminated against.
About the best you can do for a well-intentioned person doing a thing like that is tell them it's not helping.
How does that work?
"I Was Google’s Head of International Relations. Here’s Why I Left."
That the work they do is unpopular doesn't imply the work they do is bad. I, personally, was always grudgingly respectful of the privacy auditing team, even if their suggestions could delay a project upwards of two quarters.
Googlers who disagree could voice to the ELT and then make decisions on their own if the ELT disagrees if they want to stay, leave or what not. They could unionize too and use the power of collective bargaining. It seems like the cafeteria workers figured out how to do it.
What happens when the documented human rights decisions differ from US law (which has its own places where it's fallen on its face in the human rights department)? Or from the law of any country in which Google operates, for that matter?
(I agree this is a good idea in principle, but it's possible for good ideas to be bad to implement for liability reasons).
The point of those exercises is to make you cringe at name-calling and stereotyping. To take the thoughts out of peoples' minds and put them in ether so all can see how cringey these labels are.
Google definitely needs to outright fire the HR partner who was stupid enough to write that they should "do some digging" on a staff member down. They're clearly a liability.
It wasn't the CC I was criticising. If you subscribe to the maxim that the point of an HR department is to shield the company from successful employment lawsuits then putting "dig up some dirt" on someone in writing anywhere where it is subject to discovery in the event of a lawsuit is flat out incompetent.
Because from where I'm sitting, your narrative is universal against all politicians, and in fact democracy itself, since all political communications are just marketing to get elected.
Fair point. I personally welcomed the contribution. To me it just points to the fact the author may have an angle/objective not explicitly stated. There is nothing wrong with that. I don't see it as being against all politicians or even democracy itself. It is just about pointing out that there may be other factors influencing the author's decision. I'd be curious (if not suspicious) about anybody running for public office who does not have some kind of personal interest in addition to the desire to serve.
These two issues are not related at all. It's easy to imagine a company which didn't kowtow to China, but was still not treating minorities properly. And of course, it's easy to imagine the reverse. (and, I'll bet that latter scenario happens quite often.) The only real point relating them together is the author's personal grievance.
It's also the case that the James Damore memo suggests the opposite problem the author complains about -- diversity policies which are too progressive. I'm not suggesting Damore is correct, and the author is incorrect, but instead that this line of argument is not a given.
Further, although I completely agree with the complaints with regard to China, the author has said very little which was not already publicly known. That's a fine thing to do, but he muddies the water by mixing these large geopolitical problems with his own personal grievances.
Lastly, I find it surprising that he does not know how HR works. As I mentioned above, HR prevents lawsuits. They only help you if helping you will prevent a lawsuit.
Just because Google hires women and minorities doesn't mean they are treated well. In fact, you need women and minorities in close proximity to mistreat them. There is no conflict between the author and James Damore.
- Do we know it's only young girls getting screamed at, or is everyone getting screamed at?
- I vehemently dislike the diversity exercises, but it's clear that splitting people into groups and identifying stereotypes was meant to be a helpful, progressive exercise. (I don't believe these are actually helpful or progressive, but it's clear that this is their intent.) Because of this, I don't feel that calling out how asinine these diversity classes are is proof of bigotry in google. I'm not suggesting there is not bigotry (I really wouldn't know) -- just that the author did not make a strong case.
Leaving a company with your work in formal good standing is a very different choice from leaving a company where you were struggling to get the job done.
If you're a senior executive at CVS or Verizon or Home Depot you don't need a stance on disputed borders in your maps or flags in your emoji set - making it much easier to avoid the kind of criticisms tech companies are vulnerable to.
Sure, you're vulnerable to criticism for selling products brought from (or containing components brought from) oppressive regimes, but Apple and Google and Microsoft all do that and the other stuff as well