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Google's Other Ugly Secret: Some Managers Keep Blacklists (inc.com) 754

Last week a controversial internal memo written by a concerned Google employee was going viral within the company. The memo, titled "PC Considered Harmful" and since dubbed "the Google manifesto" on social media, argued two points: First, that Google has become an ideological echo chamber where anyone with centrist or right-of-center views fears to speak their mind. Second, that part of the tech industry's gender gap can be attributed to biological differences between men and women. The person who wrote the memo has since been fired, but the internal tussle has revealed one more thing. The Inc reports: The contentious internal discussion revived a concern dating back to 2015: An unknown number of Google managers maintain blacklists of fellow employees, evidently refusing to work with those people. The blacklists are based on personal experiences of others' behavior, including views expressed on politics, social justice issues, and Google's diversity efforts. Inc. reviewed screenshots documenting several managers attesting to this practice, both in the past and currently, explicitly using the term "blacklist." The screenshots were shared by a Google employee who requested anonymity due to having signed an NDA. In additional screenshots, one Google employee declared his intent to quit if Damore were not fired, and another said that he would refuse to work with Damore in any capacity. A Google spokesperson told Inc. that the practice of keeping blacklists is not condoned by upper management, and that Google employees who discriminate against members of protected classes will be terminated. It's not clear whether that principle applies in Damore's case. Although political affiliation is a protected class according to California labor law, the views expressed in the manifesto and echoed by others who oppose political correctness do not seem to merit legal protection.

Google's Other Ugly Secret: Some Managers Keep Blacklists

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  • The Rainbow Scare (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:04AM (#54964343)

    You may want to research the early days of McCarthyism and the blacklist.

    Is this the first firing that was perhaps an overly sensitive reaction concerned with appeasing a very touchy ideological base? Because I can think of a number of other people railroaded out of a job because of online "outrage."

    We aren't all that far from an Inquisition (not prongs and tongs type Inquisition, but a "your job depends on agreement" type Inquisition). The most significant thing missing from the equation is that the most vocal social justice voices lack political influence and power. If you see this movement organize politically and get candidates in office, any student of history should recognize that things will get worse for open expression of ideas before things get better.

    also girls suck at pooters lol

  • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:08AM (#54964383)

    ... Google employees who discriminate against members of protected classes will be terminated.

    I am curious: does that include discrimination against those protected classes in the job interview process? Like, say, for example, ageism? I am just saying.

    You see, it is easy to visually identify some protected classes and subtly discriminate against them (he is overqualified, or she is not a good fit for the team) in ways that are not obviously discriminatory. But nobody in their right mind talks politics or social justice as part of the interview process. So you hire some people who end being a diversity problem. Don't kid yourself, to Google and similar companies the views expressed which challenge the accepted thinking are not welcomed as part of a healthy and vigorous debate. They are seen as a disease that must be cut out.

    We are very tolerant and accepting here. You had better be tolerant and accepting in the same way or we will sack you.

  • by TheSunborn ( 68004 ) <tiller@dai[ ]au.dk ['mi.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:09AM (#54964397)

    Is there anything wrong with this? I also have a personal list of people I don't want to work with.

    it's not as if anyone at Google tries to enforce the list on other companies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What are you? A fucking child? I don't love all of my coworkers. I don't agree with many of their political views. The salient factor - the only factor of any importance - is if they can do the job. Be an adult and a professional, and praise and elevate competent people. Shunning people because, boo hoo, they said something mean about X, and it hurts my feelings just to look at them, would seriously get you punted out of my company if I had anything to say about it. We're here to get a job done, expe

      • by TheSunborn ( 68004 ) <tiller@dai[ ]au.dk ['mi.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:36AM (#54964671)

        ???

        My list and Googles list contains people can not do the job, or who prevent other from doing their job. Or people who are impossible to work with. It does not contain people I don't like, or don't agree with.

      • I don't agree with many of their political views.

        I don't even know the political views of any of my coworkers at all, but there have been coworkers that I don't work with. They have been people who are terrible at their job, or are obnoxious, and one who simply smelled too bad to be near.

      • Unfortunately have had co-workers that create more work than they do. I do what I can to avoid these people.
      • What are you? A fucking child? I don't love all of my coworkers. I don't agree with many of their political views. The salient factor - the only factor of any importance - is if they can do the job. Be an adult and a professional, and praise and elevate competent people. Shunning people because, boo hoo, they said something mean about X, and it hurts my feelings just to look at them, would seriously get you punted out of my company if I had anything to say about it. We're here to get a job done, expediently, correctly, competitively with the best group of people to make it so. We're not here to massage egos, create safe spaces, or coddle people.

        That sounds suspiciously like you would, ahem, blacklist them from your company for holding a view that you don't like.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I get a little nervous when people start compiling dossiers of evidence...

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:17AM (#54964471) Homepage Journal

    Freedom of speech doesn't mean that your employer is obligated to give you a podium. In general, so that everyone can get along I'd rather not know that my co-worker is a bigot or a Trump supporter, etc.

    Had this fellow made his posting outside of his employment, things would have been different. But he chose to do it at work, and because of the way Google's merit system works (your co-workers grade you), he marked himself as someone who would not fairly grade women co-workers. This so demoralized a lot of his women co-workers that many stayed home from work on Monday. And the CEO called off a family vacation in order to come back and deal with the fallout.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I've had issues with co-workers political views lately, and it really does make things difficult. I try to be professional and work with them, but they want to be my friends even though I know they don't want my wife to immigrate and live with me. It would be better if we just didn't talk about it, but Brexit and the fact that I'm often taking time off to sort out visa issues and the like makes it impossible.

    • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:36AM (#54964677)

      This so demoralized a lot of his women co-workers that many stayed home from work on Monday.

      This right here is a problem and it sort of reinforces the notion that some people (be they women, liberals, Christians, immigrants, whatever) are so fragile that they cannot abide people around them who think differently.

      I teach at a Midwestern university. Last fall after Trump won the election I read about how students at some universities were so overwhelmed by the Trump victory that their professors delayed or canceled exams, that the school had cry ins, and other such nonsense.

      What I told my students was that regardless of who you supported, half of the country was terribly disappointed the morning after the election, but that life goes on. The cows still have to get milked, the news papers have to be delivered, the Starbucks have to be open for business, students have to be taught, etc. We have to encourage people to be more resilient, not less.

      I come from an immigrant family. My parents didn't sit around and cry when something didn't go their way or someone said something impolite to them. They put on their big boy/big girl pants and worked that much harder. The state of society today has me frequently asking how we become so weak minded.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well, any system devised by humans can go haywire; there's a lot to be said for a system where your coworkers grade you, but such a system is susceptible to group-think and prejudice.

      That said, it shouldn't really even come up in the context of the workplace. If your political views cause dissension, you leave them at home. Same with your religion, or anything else. If it pisses people off, you button it.

      But we all know that kind of person. The one who is convinced he's misunderstood because he's smarter

    • Memos and internet posts are at most putting a disposable pamphlet on a shelf, not standing in front of a crowd and yelling. I hate that stupid "our forums are a podium" argument, and I especially hate when people think going viral deserves an unapologetic firing. I for one can work with religious people who think I'm going to hell, people who love their countries and hold mine in contempt, people who won't shut up about their wealth, and even people who don't think mullets are cool. Those who stayed home w
  • I'm so old I remember when tech companies used to hire individuals based on their ability to do the work. How old fashioned!

    Victimhood Identity Politics is in direct opposition to the American principle of individualism. Evidently treating people as individuals doesn't offer SJW types enough opportunities for graft or lording over others to make them conform to their far-left culture war politics.

    So we get "Protected Classes," because some animals are more equal than others...

    • It should be pointed out that the protected class definitions themselves are not discriminatory. Sex and race are protected classes, meaning both sexes and all races are protected, not just women and minorities. If his accusation that certain genders (presumably men) and races (presumably white/asian) were excluded from certain programs within Google, then Google would in fact be guilty of discrimination against those protected classes.

      There are some who argue that only those classes with a history of
    • by cardpuncher ( 713057 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @12:37PM (#54966083)

      I'm so old I remember when tech companies used to hire individuals based on their ability to do the work..

      No. You simply remember the times you were hired and your self-belief makes you assume that you were the most qualified applicant. It's not true now [npr.org] and never has been.

  • by MetricT ( 128876 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:19AM (#54964487)

    Google has become an ideological echo chamber where anyone with centrist or right-of-center views fears to speak their mind.

    How ironic, because the right has itself become an ideological echo chamber. I used to be a Republican, back before moderates were "RINO's". The GOP of that era knew that climate change was real, and debated carbon tax vs cap-and-trade as a solution. The modern GOP either thinks that climate change isn't real, or that it's caused by gay marriage.

    Gender equality is a complex issue, and is full of people talking past each other, so I expect little progress to be made anytime soon. Women should feel completely free to join male-dominated fields like programming and science, just as men should feel free to join female-dominated fields like nursing and teaching.

    Yes, there is often enough male misogynists, weirdos, and "those guys" in IT that it would make women uncomfortable, and that needs to be nipped in the bud, both for the sake of women and for the sake of business. There are women like that too. People who are jerks in one way are often jerks in other ways too, and those malignant personalities often have deleterious effects on their co-workers irrespective of gender.

    But I don't see people fretting about why women aren't working construction jobs, or hauling garbage. That's because even the men working those jobs largely don't *want* to do them. IT isn't hauling the garbage, but it involves long hours, an often stressful work environment, and a relentless grind. Maybe those characteristics aren't as attractive to women as to men. Having worked in IT for 15+ years, it's not attractive to me as a man either. Or maybe women simply have better options.

    Maybe 20% women in programming *is* the natural equilibrium. I don't *think* so, but it's possible. Men and women are different, and desire different things. Men desire income (to attract a wife and support a family), while women often prefer jobs that allow them more free time (again to support their family). If you're a woman who desires income, or a man who wants more free time, that's completely fine (I'd definitely prefer more free time over a pay raise), but it's not the average response.

    TL;DR: People are all different. Be kind to one another. Don't be a dick.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think you'd be surprised if you read the "anti-equality" manifesto. The author highlighted a lot of the social and biological norms that you did.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        I read the manifesto, and I see it as a sincere effort to be thoughtful, but ultimately pseudo-scientific.

        For example it's absolutely true that women and men are exposed to different ranges of testosterone in utero, but to draw a causal link between that and the rate at which they become programmers takes an enormous leap of faith.

        Likewise he peppers the piece with references to the "average woman", but the average woman doesn't become an engineer any more than the average man. It takes an uncommon set of

    • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @11:04AM (#54964993)

      Political movements are supposed to have specific positions and organize around those positions. It's not "ironic".

      ...because the right has itself become an ideological echo chamber. ... Maybe 20% women in programming *is* the natural equilibrium.

      That's cute. You think disapproving of "the right" will save you from the inquisition.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Yes, there is often enough male misogynists, weirdos, and "those guys" in IT that it would make women uncomfortable

      Are there not enough hyper feminists, weirdos and "those girls" to make men feel uncomfortable?

      I don't want to listen to prattle every friggin day about how terrible it is you can't get the kind of birth control you want for free, and my gosh how come we don't have menstruation breaks here, or see your stupid pussy hat on the coat rack when nobody else would wear something like that to place of professional business. Lets face it. The real issue here is that we allow this shit to be an issue. The issu

    • by MetricT ( 128876 )

      Replying to my own comment since this seems to have blown up.

      Gender equality involves three interlinked questions:

      1. As individuals, are women with a given level of education/experience/productivity *hired* at the same rate as men.

      The answer is *no*, though economic forces alone will solve the problem even in the absence of regulation. Any business that can hire a woman who is just as effective as a man but will work for 80% of the salary will quickly find themselves making a lot of money. This leads t

    • I've been a programmer for 25 years, my ex-wife is one of the best programmers I know, and I would also say I have worked with very few weak female programmers. The reason the number of women in CS in North America is low and the reason the numbers never recovered after the dot com bust is job stability. Women are just as good as men at CS, they are just as good or better at staying with jobs they don't enjoy. However, they do not enjoy job instability. This is why small startups are skewed even more ma
  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:20AM (#54964499) Homepage Journal

    "Although political affiliation is a protected class according to California labor law"

    Yeah.

    In the current political climate this doesn't matter AT ALL. NOT ONE BIT.

    California universities have been tolerating violent, physically violent attacks against speakers, visitors, guests to their campuses, violence in reaction to their professed political affiliations, violence justified by student, faculty, and others NOT AFFILIATED WITH THESE UNIVERSITIES by THEIR political affiliations.

    This is not limited to California, but to recite that California law declares political affiliation a 'protected class', that is, political association is by law in California protected and claimed to be a right of the people to participate in, express, and speak freely without threat of suppression, is not merely disingenuous, it is an affront and insult to those who have suffered actual physical injury because those with opposing views would not tolerate their speaking.

    What? Google fires an employee for speaking their mind. Students and others at Berkeley physically assault people gathering to protest these suppressions of free political speech. In California. Some were arrested. And the attitude that contrary speech should be fought against, literally fought against, seems to be spreading.

    The truth is, in California, there is a coalition of political groups agreeing that contrary speech can and SHOULD be suppressed and prevented, by physical violence if they choose to. And this is happening nationwide. Worldwide.

    And it is justified by the 'greater good'.

    The political philosophy that claims to be tolerant, inclusive, caring, and above all better, is the one that espouses violent response to their opposition. This philosophy is led to this by leaders worldwide, unapologetic in their goals and tactics.

  • Yes, and??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bickerdyke ( 670000 )

    and that Google employees who discriminate against members of protected classes will be terminated.

    So firing that guy may or may not have gone overboard a bit. But what do you expect? After all, they just got under fire [theguardian.com] for not protecting protected classes from discrimination.

    Are they supposed to create a work environment more friendly to women or not?

    • He wrote a 10-page memo titled "X Considered Harmful". Of course they fired him. It takes a certain breed of idiot to presume themselves Djikstra.

      (This coming from a Congressional candidate marketing a "New Deal", as if I presume myself FDR.)

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:25AM (#54964553) Homepage

    Over my 20+ year career as an IT Support contractor, I've kept a blacklist of recruiters that I refused to deal with. Tek Systems, Robert Half and Microsoft tops my blacklist.

    Tek Systems always call you in for an interview, are more interested in who you interviewed with previously than your qualifications, and never offer a job after repeated interviews.

    The San Jose office for Robert Half have recruiters who always get a better job for themselves than trying to help you get a job. I went through six recruiters in three month because of the turnover.

    Microsoft requires that the hiring manager considers five applicants even though he plans to hire his drinking buddy. During a six week period in 2005, I had five Microsoft recruiters leading me by the nose for jobs that went to drinking buddies.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:36AM (#54964667) Homepage Journal

    So protected speech doesn't merit legal protection in California?

    REALLY?

    Again, illiberal, authoritarian shit like this, coming out of what's supposed to be the most liberal place on the planet should surprise nobody.

    "Think differently, just like me, OR ELSE!"

    So, instead of a tolerant, level-headed push to better and broaden society, we have a bunch of bitchy, socially maladjusted children pushing darwinian progressivism, group-think, intolerance and and the kind of antisocial interaction you see in nasty little grade school students.

    And California isn't just "okay" with this, it wants the entire fucking state to be this goddamn crazy.

    Then they wonder why people are praying for an earthquake or secession to take these fucknuts off our hands...

  • Wrong policy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:37AM (#54964689)

    "In additional screenshots, one Google employee declared his intent to quit if Damore were not fired, and another said that he would refuse to work with Damore in any capacity".

    Those are the people who should be fired.

    • It's insane. I can't choose to "not work" with my coworkers because IT'S MY GODDAMN JOB TO WORK WITH THEM.

  • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @10:50AM (#54964825)

    Most places that I've worked has had pretty strict prohibitions on discussing politics or religion in the workplace, no matter what flavor of those things is involved. For good and obvious reasons, I think -- such discussions can only lead to grief and strife among people who would otherwise be able to work productively together. I'm a bit surprised that Google allows it.

    Also, I'm not clear on what is meant by "blacklist". Typically, that means a list of people who are ineligible for (whatever) that is distributed within an organization and everyone is expected to adhere to.

    But the article makes it sound like something rather different: individuals deciding that they can't work with other individuals. This is pretty normal. I know that in most places that I've worked, there have been people that I would go to great lengths to avoid interacting with, and in a managerial role, there have been people who I would not accept on my team because of personality issues.

    Is that a "blacklist"? I don't think so. I think it's more about wanting to have teams that can function well together. Being able to get along well in a team is as important as technical skill.

  • by Imazalil ( 553163 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @11:12AM (#54965071)

    What happened, I thought we were all end-of-life curmudgeons, not 15 year olds just entering the workforce.

    Every single person ever keeps a "blacklist" of people they will not work with. There are many reasons one could find themselves on said list, many real, many petty. Maybe a person...
    - were a client that didn't pay up for work done
    - were a subcontractor that didn't do the work
    - were constantly going on about their child/dog/cat
    - drank too much during office hours
    - smelled
    - their food smelled
    - kept going on about something political, no matter the spectrum
    - you just don't like their face
    - they stole your lunch money
    - have an annoyING valley-girl/boy vocAL afflectiON

    If you're freelancing, you just don't deal with them. If you're in a team/corporate environment, you avoid them. Welcome to life. Can't wait till you discover that you get free television channels by using an antenna (in most parts of the US). Get off my lawn and all that.

  • by brennz ( 715237 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @11:37AM (#54965347)

    We are making regular additions to Sundar's List for all collective CrimeThinkers: Classical Liberals, Meritocratic Libertarians, Republicans, Christians, Moderates, associated FreeThinkers, Heteronormatives, Cis gender caucasian-males, Leftists refusing to toe the line, as well as scientists discussing inconvenient biological facts. We read your contacts, your email, your queries, your financial transactions, and shortly, your thoughts.

    Dissent will not be tolerated

    DoublePlus Love,

    Danielle Brown
    Commissar of GoodThink
    ThinkPol, Google Corp

    P.S. Support our Hillary2020 Campaign

  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @02:17PM (#54967227) Homepage

    Working as a tech manager for 20 years, I've seen the misogyny and sexual harassment first hand. There were times I had to keep lists of who would work together and who needed to be separated. That is not a "blacklist" unless you're a little snowflake looking for a reason to be offended. That just means you have a large organization and there's always that talented but socially inept developer who has the social skills of a Neanderthal. You try to keep them on, try to work with them on the social aspects. Sometimes it works, most times not.

    I did notice there tended to be cultural influences at work in some cases. I'd also argue that the current political climate has increased sensitivity to people who come across as "pussy grabbers."

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