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Google Memo Gets Author Fired And Sparks Tech Diversity Talks

Google's CEO said the controversial memo on diversity violated the company's Code of Conduct.
Posted at 9:34 PM, Aug 08, 2017

The Google employee who wrote a controversial internal memo on diversity has been fired.

In a 10-page memo, James Damore wrote that sexism isn't primarily to blame for gender gaps in the technology sector. Instead, he said, women's biology and personality traits make them less likely to succeed.

Damore also said, among other things, that Google's left-leaning atmosphere creates an environment where differing ideological opinions aren't welcome or tolerated.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai cut his vacation short in order to deal with fallout from the memo. In a statement, he said he supported workers' right to express themselves, but that Damore's words violated the company's Code of Conduct.

This particular memo aside, Google and many other companies in Silicon Valley have well-documented diversity issues.

In 2014, women only made up 30 percent of employees at the top 75 tech firms in Silicon Valley. For non-tech firms in the same geographical area, women made up almost half of the workforce.

Right now, 80 percent of Google's tech jobs are held by men.

And the company hasn't done any better with racial diversity: Only 4 percent of its tech employees are black or Hispanic.

Google was also under investigation by the federal government earlier this year for allegedly underpaying its female employees, an accusation it denies. Investigators said that even considering the widespread gender discrimination in Silicon Valley, Google's case is extreme.

To Google's credit, it was one of the first tech companies to release diversity statistics. It also recently hired a vice president for diversity.

As for its former engineer James Damore, he says he'll "likely be pursuing legal action."