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Google Cancels Town Hall To Discuss Diversity In Its Ranks (nbcnews.com) 786

NBC News originally reported: Google employees will gather for a town hall meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss the tensions ignited by a memo circulated inside the company that claimed to explain why more women are not engineers. Town hall meetings are nothing new at Google, but this one will likely be different after the so-called "Google Manifesto" went viral over the weekend, adding fresh fuel to the debate around gender bias in Silicon Valley. Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in an email earlier this week that he would cut his family vacation short in order to facilitate the forum. "The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree -- while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct," he wrote. "I'd encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same." The town hall comes amid a report from The Guardian that as many as 60 women are considering filing a class action lawsuit against Google, alleging sexism and wage disparity.
UPDATE: NBC News now reports the event has been cancelled, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai saying "Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be 'outed' publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall... we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion." Instead of the company-wide format, Google will now hold several smaller forums "to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely," Pichai wrote.

Google Cancels Town Hall To Discuss Diversity In Its Ranks

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  • Canceled. (Score:4, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:23PM (#54987163)

    http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

    • Re:Canceled. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:29PM (#54987187)

      The purpose of a "townhall meeting" is dialog. Google had already made it clear that they want a monologue. Cancelling it was very sensible.

      • Rush (Score:4, Informative)

        by Tulsa_Time ( 2430696 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:39PM (#54987271)

        RUSH: They can’t be open about what they think. They have to follow the Google groupthink or they’re going to be canned. They’re not allowed to dissent. And yet these are people claiming to be the greatest defenders of First Amendment free speech.

      • Re:Canceled. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by naubol ( 566278 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:48PM (#54987321)
        Indeed, my first thought is, why would anyone show up who has a Wrong Thought? Nobody wants to get fired.
  • by Distan ( 122159 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:26PM (#54987171)

    You want to measure diversity at google? Count the political bumper stickers on the cars that park there. You'll have no problem finding Hillary and Sanders stickers, but Trump stickers are rarer than hen's teeth.

    They built this absolutely toxic environment for conservatives under the cover of "diversity". Why should anyone believe they are going to do anything except continue to make conservatives feel like pariahs?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by brxndxn ( 461473 )
      It really seems like these huge companies try to create a 'culture' pushed from the top where it's common knowledge that you're supposed to be a liberal. They act like somehow conservatives aren't a huge part of America. They deserve blowback for that.
      • by GerryGilmore ( 663905 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:13PM (#54987491)
        Dude, you're "thinking" is fucked up and shows that you are obviously a hyper-partisan. I'm a Bernie fan, but in my career I've hired well over a hundred people. Never once did any political leanings come into the interview or any subsequent review. I had one guy who was an anti-tax radical (sadly, he went to jail and I had to replace him), a gay guy who was "Out" and proud of it. We all loved the guy. I hired gun owners and gun haters. NONE of that had anything to do with job performance which is the ONLY thing that any real boss cares about. If you (or Google or anyone) is hiring for PC reasons of any stripe, you should resign immediately as you are not worthy of any management role. Period.
      • Imagine how unchecked they'd be if the elections had gone the other way. From a Wired article, Google had a "call for employees to give each other hugs at an all hands meeting because the wrong candidate won a presidential election in the country."

        The WRONG candidate, says the mighty Google.

      • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @12:41AM (#54988893)
        This isn't limited to companies. It affects the entire country. The one poll which correctly predicted the 2016 election [latimes.com] noticed that Trump supporters were less likely to reveal to pollsters that they were Trump supporters. And when they took steps to compensate for it in their poll weighting, lo and behold they predicted Trump would win the election.

        The vitriol and violence in the media and by protesters created a culture of shaming Trump supporters, who promptly went turtle to protect themselves. Consequently they ended up undercounted in all the polls, but showed up in the election.

        We need to take a lesson from science. When the theory of continental drift was first proposed, geologists initially scoffed at it and dismissed its proponents. But they never ridiculed them, never excluded them from publishing papers. And as more evidence was gathered, the community gradually came around to accept it as correct. Democracy gets it strength from the diversity of viewpoints within its population. This allows us to think up, consider, and try all sorts of different ideas which would never even be suggested in other forms of government. "Shaming" people with unpopular views is detrimental to a functional democracy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      From what I have read this guy sounded more like a moderate and provided long term solutions to the problem, but pointed out short term it isn't really helping things.

      Pushing education and activities to get women interested, while at the same time helping employees organize so that more feminine or sociable guys work with more sociable women, while taking note that some people will not be assertive about desiring raises, and thus putting more burden on managers to offer raises/promotions to their employees

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lucm ( 889690 )

        long term solutions to the problem

        What problem? Not enough women in STEM? Why don't we worry as a society about the gender gap in nursing, kindergarten teaching or flight attending? Why don't we talk about the gender gap in the Titanic survivors? Is this really about diversity, or is this just plain feminism (as in promoting the female agenda over the male agenda)?

    • by neuro88 ( 674248 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:42PM (#54987293)
      I'm not a Trump supporter (but I was also never a Hilary supporter), but I am a San Francisco native, I work in Silicon Valley, and I did interview with Google and did fairly well (though I chose to work elsewhere, a decision I'm very thankful for after this debacle). I also consider myself to be independent these days.

      That being said, I think there's several reasons for a lack of Trump bumper stickers you'd see in Google's parking lot.

      1) I think you're right, that conservatives would be afraid (and rightfully so) to show Trump bumper stickers in the Google parking lot for fear of violating the group think.

      2) Silicon Valley is pretty left leaning in general, there's just not a whole lot of conservatives in the area.

      3) I think having a Trump bumper sticker in the bay area would be a great way to get your car vandalized.
      • by Known Nutter ( 988758 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:29PM (#54987617)

        3) I think having a Trump bumper sticker in the bay area would be a great way to get your car vandalized.

        Having any bumper sticker is a great way to get your car vandalized. Bumper stickers -- all of them, in all forms -- are fucking retarded and serve no useful purpose that I've been able to discern.

      • #3, Get a 'city car', I recommend POS old Honda, maybe old Toyota 4x4 but those tires are expensive...every keying just adds to 'the patina', rattle can primer is cheap. Trump, MAGA and 'Nuke A Gay Unborn Baby Whale With AIDS For Jesus' bumper stickers on it (plus 'trucknutz', every trigger counts)...and 360 degree cameras. YouTube channel 'Troll Car'? You could put another in someplace like Tulsa, obviously different stickers. Good lul potential on both sides.

        Shame them. Don't extort them...have a lawye

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:58PM (#54987389) Journal
      As Gad Saad said: "We're good at promoting endless forms of diversity: racial diversity, ethnic diversity, religious diversity, sexual orientation diversity, and so on. But the most important diversity of all, which is intellectual diversity: no, that one we simply won't tolerate. We should all think the same way. "
    • by naubol ( 566278 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:58PM (#54987399)

      I've been really vocal about my disappointment in google firing James Damore. Let's use James Damore's words to address what you're saying.

      When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions.

      In other words, it's possible that the reason there aren't very many conservatives working for google has more to do from the distribution it hires from, than any sort of bigotry. Population density is well correlated with liberalism and Google tends to hire from urban or suburban areas.

      I agree they've increased the hostility in the environment, however your hypothesis for why there may be so few Trump supporters in the parking lot is not a slam dunk.

    • They built this absolutely toxic environment for conservatives under the cover of "diversity". Why should anyone believe they are going to do anything except continue to make conservatives feel like pariahs?

      Sadly, the poor conservatives would never consider collective action like forming a union to object to the man's firing. Instead they whine to the government to protect them, since they believe in government intervention when it's convenient for them.

  • Right /s (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yndrd1984 ( 730475 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:32PM (#54987219)

    we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree

    Without letting the people who disagree with me talk.

  • Hilarious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:37PM (#54987253)

    Watching the google execs dance and do dog tricks at the command of this completely intolerant ideology that poses as this loving progressive way of thinking has been really amusing. They are all trying so hard and falling all over themselves to offend the least amount of people as possible. It kinda proves one of the points of that former employee's memo.

    What is the point of making sure everybody looks different, when you require them all to be the same person?

    • Re:Hilarious (Score:4, Informative)

      by uncqual ( 836337 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @10:13PM (#54988279)

      I suspect that the google executives that understand technology (so, likely not VP of HR and the "Chief Diversity Officer") know deep in their hearts that these gender diversity programs are mostly nonsense and unfair to star performers of both genders -- if nothing else, if there is a problem, it's way too late to address the issue in the google workplace as there just are not enough women getting Computer Science degrees to have the "ideal" ratio of male:female developers that mirrors the population as a whole.

      This may explain their tin ear on this one -- when you're playing a role for show, you have no internal moral compass to guide you so it's really hard to know what is worthy of firing someone over and what is not.

      Anyway, if I was looking at joining a company, the fact that they have honest and analytical employees like James Damore who are willing to point out that the Emperor Has No Clothes would make me more likely to join.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:39PM (#54987279)

    I'm sure people will feel free to speak out now that someone was fired after speaking out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:39PM (#54987281)

    "Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be 'outed' publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall...

    Given that the original manifesto was originally published to a supposedly anonymous internal forum, I think being "outed" publicly is a valid concern for someone who dares to have a different perspective.

  • by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @07:51PM (#54987347)

    If it's a mandatory meeting, I'd attend and unless I had another confirmed and accepted job offer elsewhere, I'd keep out of any "discussion" with regards to this topic.

    Whenever you're asked for "open and honest" discussion, it's like when someone asks if you're stopped beating your children, a no-win scenario.

    All this seems to be a complete distraction from what a job is supposed to be. Somewhere you go to work and make money.

    • If it's a mandatory meeting, I'd attend and unless I had another confirmed and accepted job offer elsewhere, I'd keep out of any "discussion" with regards to this topic.

      The "one" bad thing on my work record at my current employer (of 15 years) is not attending two "mandatory" meetings.

      Both of those meetings were in the month leading up to a unionization vote, were obviously just propaganda to convince people not to vote for unionization, and were held on my days off.

      I did vote against unionization. The 3000-ish member department unionized anyways. I got a write-up as thanks.

      If a "mandatory meeting" is on my days off or doesnt coincide in some other way with my work

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:00PM (#54987413) Homepage Journal

    If I was a conservative employee at Google, after the last week, I'd keep my mouth shut and look for another job as quickly as possible.

    They've shown EXACTLY what they REALLY think about someone asking an honest question.

    And no pronouncements or showmanship or promises of safety are going to convince anyone otherwise.

    • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:18PM (#54987523) Homepage

      Totally agree, the "right to be offended" won out over the "right of free and reasonable speech."

  • by GerryGilmore ( 663905 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:08PM (#54987457)
    Back when I went to CDI in the mid-70's, in a class of 28, there was ONE woman and zero blacks. Was it because CDI was racist/sexist? Hell, no! At the time, DG, DEC, etc., with whom I interviewed, all made me an offer and each also said "If only you were a black woman, you'd be perfect!" At that time, these companies were trying - on their own - to hire more women and minorities. Sadly, due 100% IMO to cultural factors, the pool was shallow as hell. Fast forward and more women and blacks are participating more today, but nowhere near where they need to be to make up for the decades lost. It'll all shake it out in time, but women and blacks need to get onto the damned field!
  • by ghoul ( 157158 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:28PM (#54987605)

    Someone should go in there and ask the Question

    Googler: "Sundar, Have you stopped abusing your children"

    Sundar: "I have never abused my children"

    Googler: Thats not the Question i asked. Have you Stopped?

    Sundar: I never started

    Googler: So you are saying you havn't Stopped?

    Sundar: Speechless

    Googler : And thats how your Diversity training is run. They assume that the White Male is biased. Well this particular White Male is not biased and feels no need to atone for the sins of others.

    Sundar: Has a moment of absolute clarity, resigns from Alphabet and moves to Tibet to study Buddhism. (I wish)

  • Did I really just read that Google employees are worried about the backlash they might get from their publicly stated thoughts, opinions, etc. being freely available all over the web? Cry me a river.
  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:08PM (#54987837) Homepage Journal

    Almost 300 people join class-action lawsuit for age discrimination at Google [bizjournals.com]. They already settled their first age discrimination lawsuit when Larry Paged fired Brian Reid 9 days before IPO costing Reid 45+ million dollars in stock options. They admitted age discrimination and plants to change it. Yet Google still has an average age of 29.

    Then there is the leaked news some googlers and google managers use black lists to block conservatives from joining some teams and promotions.

    I wonder if it's because some older engineers might be conservatives.

  • by nut ( 19435 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:24PM (#54987943) Homepage
    I _READ_ the memo, and nowhere did it claim to explain why more women are not engineers. It did suggest that a number of possible reasons, including inherent gender differences, had not been ruled out by any scholarly study. Not quite the same thing.
  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:30PM (#54987981) Journal
    So Google might become a better company now. After they get a new CEO. The train on this:

    Google will now hold several smaller forums "to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely,"

    has left the station as soon as they fired the last person who tried to do what they claim they need to do in low-key, respectful and detached academic manner. This has been a failure of leadership. Given their inability to expand the cloud business (their technology has gotten better, but its adaptation has not) and their failure to grow the Android platform, one has to wonder how will they fuck up next? Fail to produce accurate search results? How about this for a rubicon: fire the CEO for failure.

  • by eaglesrule ( 4607947 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:38PM (#54988029)
    Has all the appeal and sincerity of a North Korean democratic election.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2017 @12:39AM (#54988887)
    It's easy to know the right answer 99% of the time. Our whole speech system is based on this -- that when I say a word, people know what it means, and when they say a word, I know what it means. The problem is there's one specific area of knowledge that very few people ever know: what it's like to be the opposite sex.

    No one's really wrong here. I just think that that's how you get lots of men who feel like they should know the right answer trying to explain what they think women are all going through. They share their ideas about why they think women are probably having trouble getting in the door at computer programming jobs -- based on their own personal experiences as men seeking those same jobs. And since it's so rare -- to suddenly discover one small domain of knowledge which they can never, ever fully experience -- I think people end up taking shortcuts.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The best quote I heard on this phenomenon was Wired's interview with someone who was actually good friends with James Damore when he was still a college student -- and who had a surprisingly balanced response when he read about all the angry attacks on Damore [wired.com].

      This classmate says he did not view Damore as “some sort of raving sexist or bigot.” But, this classmate adds, “When you’re really smart you’re prone to thinking that you can solve these big issues if you just think re
  • by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Friday August 11, 2017 @11:16AM (#54991123)

    This Damore fellow seems naive. You don't have free speech at work. Anyone who has been around the block a few times should know that.

    I hold some controversial views about politics and society. I don't talk about them at work. I keep conversation with my colleagues limited to the work we are doing and maybe the weather and what I did over the weekend. Even then, they get a sanitized version of my weekend. Management is going to do what they're going to do, and likely don't give a fuck what I think. Sure, I'll make suggestions in the proper setting if I think something can be done better. But as a Systems Admin I'm not going to weigh in, uninvited, on the company's hiring policies; especially about something as contentious and politically charged as women's aptitude for engineering.

    I'm not sure this guy should have been fired. But the fact is he stuck his head up and it got lopped off. Companies have cultures. Not everyone if a fit for every culture, and the culture is likely not going to change just for you. Don't like it? Don't work for Google. I have refused job offers because the people at the company seemed like dicks. Damore should just move on. He won't have free speech ant his next job either.

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