A Google engineer fired for criticising the tech giant for its diversity policy continued his blitz against the company and dubbed his former workplace a "cult". According to an op-ed titled "Why I Was Fired by Google" in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, James Damore, who was fired for writing a 10-page anti-diversity memo, said: "Google is a particularly intense echo chamber because it is in the middle of Silicon Valley and is so life-encompassing as a place to work."
"Some even live on campus. For many, including myself, working at Google is a major part of their identity, almost 'like a cult' with its own leaders and saints, all believed to righteously uphold the sacred motto of 'Don't be evil'," the former-Google employee wrote. Damore argued that this created an environment where only certain opinions could be voiced and slammed the tech giant in its attempt to "silence open and honest discussion".
"How did Google, the company that hires the smartest people in the world, become so ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate and reasoned argument," he wrote. Damore's views came after Google's Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai addressed a coding event for girls on the sprawling campus at Mountain View, California after the manifesto claimed that "the representation gap between men and women in software engineering persists because of biological differences between the two sexes".
On Friday, Pichai reportedly cancelled a town hall meeting to allay fears over an anti-diversity manifesto and said that "there's a place for you in this industry". "There's a place for you at Google. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You belong here, and we need you," Pichai told girl innovators at the company. The town hall meeting late on Thursday was cancelled, according to Recode, after some employees reportedly expressed the fear that they would be targets of online harassment if they speak up and ask questions in the meeting.
Pichai, however, emphasised the importance of engineers "building products for everyone in the world". "I think to do that well we really need to have people internally who represent the world in totality. And that's how we think about it. So it's really important that more women and girls have the opportunity to participate in technology, to learn how to code, create, and innovate," Pichai told the audience.
"I was surprised to find the girls here represent more than 100 countries from around the world. I think they've been chosen from over 11,000 girls. I think my job sometimes is hard, but I can't even imagine the judges who had to choose from all those wonderful, wonderful participants to get the winners here," he added. Pichai cut his vacation short to deal with the crisis over the manifesto that went viral within the company and infuriated thousands of employees. Pichai earlier said parts of the 3,300-word manifesto crossed the line by "advancing harmful gender stereotypes" in the workplace.
"Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives," Pichai wrote in an earlier email. "To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. Clearly, there's a lot more to discuss as a group, including how we create a more inclusive environment for all," Pichai added.
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