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Ex-Google Employee's Memo Says Executives Shut Down Pro-Diversity Discussions (gizmodo.com) 393

An anonymous reader shares a report: A memo written by a former Google engineer claims that the company's human resources department and a senior vice president pressured him to stop discussing diversity initiatives on company forums, interactions that ultimately motivated him to leave the company. The document, which was written in 2016 and shared publicly this week, provides a striking counterpoint to allegations made by former Google employees James Damore and David Gudeman in a discrimination lawsuit filed against their former employer. Cory Altheide, the former employee who wrote the memo, began work as a security engineer at Google in 2010 and departed the company in January 2016. He recently published his account in a public Google document. Altheide posted several articles and comments to internal discussion groups that promoted diversity in the workplace and was chastised for doing so, he wrote.
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Ex-Google Employee's Memo Says Executives Shut Down Pro-Diversity Discussions

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  • And yet... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:31AM (#55914829)

    ...we have another employee suing because he felt discriminated-against because of policies designed to increase diversity.

    You can't satisfy all of the people all of the time.

    • There is a line between discussion and Trolling.
      Normally if there is a conflict between rights of the minority, vs the rights of the majority to oppress the minority. The minority group will win.

      There was a discussion on how to improve diversity. The guys discussion was about stating such discussion is necessary.
       

      • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by penandpaper ( 2463226 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:51AM (#55914963) Journal

        There is a line between discussion and Trolling.

        Yes, and he even agreed with google that some of the comments his discussions generated should not be tolerated.

      • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:54AM (#55914997) Journal

        When the "minority" is a made up group that experiences "micro-aggressions" and uses those imagined slights and offenses as group think to silence anyone they don't like, then yeah, the minority does win, every time. And it isn't always about diversity, it is about promoting cultural changes that benefit only the minority at the expense of everyone else. To the point of, you can't even write a well reasoned, well researched article of dissent without being fired for offending people with the truth.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          So well researched and reasoned that the authors of the two papers he relies on the most have publicly stated that he didn't understand them, and that his conclusions are wrong.

          The basic mistake he makes repeatedly is to assume that the variations the papers discuss have vastly more effect and influence than they actually do.

          • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by RedK ( 112790 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @01:14PM (#55915605)

            The basic mistake he makes repeatedly is to assume that the variations the papers discuss have vastly more effect and influence than they actually do.

            He actually states that the variations he discusses don't have a major effect, that the effect just causes that attaining the holy grail of a 50/50 split to not be quite possible to attain.

            He also offers way to modify the work place so that those effects can be further diminished and thus promotes pro-women measures to put in place so that Google can get closer to said 50/50 split. AKA : He was FOR diversity. He just thought Google was going about it the wrong way.

            And yet here you are, screeching at him.

            • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @02:27PM (#55916203) Homepage Journal

              He actually states that the variations he discusses don't have a major effect, that the effect just causes that attaining the holy grail of a 50/50 split to not be quite possible to attain.

              You don't need any magical discussion of human nature to prove that a 50/50 split between genders is impossible to attain, at least in the short to medium term. Fundamentally, it is not possible for an industry to hire more women than graduate with a degree in that field, ignoring the small percentage of self-taught programmers. On average, in the United States, women make up only about 16% of CS grads. So it is physically impossible for the industry average to be more even than 84/16 unless you deliberately leave a lot of men unemployed.

              More to the point, the only way you can achieve a 50/50 split is to leave more than two-thirds of all computer science grads completely idle, and about 81% of all male CS grads unemployed. If you tried to implement this, two things would happen. First, the computer industry would collapse immediately, because it wouldn't be able to hire enough people to meet the immediate demand. Second, the computer industry would collapse even further long-term, because no sane person goes to college for four years known that they have a one in three chance of ever working in the field, and a two in three chance of waiting tables or flipping burgers for the rest of their lives.

              The only way to improve on the gender imbalance is to improve on the number of women graduating with CS majors. That, in turn, has to start early in the education process—ideally as early as primary school. Gender imbalance can't be fixed by changing hiring practices and hoping that somehow 12-year-old girls will see how much companies want women programmers, and based on that, will magically take an interest in sitting inside behind a computer screen all day, learning to code. It is something that can only be fixed by getting more women to start learning CS, which mostly happens before kids are even old enough to know what "gender bias" means.

              What this means for the world is that we need to shift our focus from trying to get more women into software companies, towards getting women into CS teaching jobs in middle schools and high schools, where studies show that girls are more likely to take an interest in learning CS from women than from men. And we need to focus on getting CS into the curriculum in the first place. (Ironically, Trump is right, but for entirely the wrong reasons.)

              Don't get me wrong, I like working at a company that tries hard to recruit women, because the gender balance is healthier, but it isn't doing the industry as a whole any favors, and might even be making things worse, because the pool of applicants is largely a zero-sum game. When one company succeeds, it does so to the detriment of all the other companies. If all the large companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, etc.) managed to reach 50%, you'd have thousands of other companies with zero women programmers. And because most programmers will work for those other companies, most programmers would then perceive computer science to be an even more male-dominated field than they do now.

              Just food for thought. I don't have all of the answers for how to fix the diversity problem. I just have the nagging feeling that we aren't even asking the right questions yet.

              • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by computational super ( 740265 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @04:20PM (#55917173)
                I can't help but marvel at the dichotomy here, too: when men, who are about 50% of the population, represent, say, 75% of the hires, it's evidence of rampant discrimination. When Asians, who represent about 5% of the population, are 90% of the hires, it's just evidence that "the best qualified rise to the top".
          • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Informative)

            by ilguido ( 1704434 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @01:23PM (#55915689)

            So well researched and reasoned that the authors of the two papers he relies on the most have publicly stated that he didn't understand them, and that his conclusions are wrong.

            Really? As far as I know they distanced themselves from Damore (nobody likes to be lynched in a witch hunt) and not from what he wrote. The article "The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond" [quillette.com] features the comments of four scientists (including scientists cited by Damore) about the Google Memo. Here are some excerpts:

            "The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right. "
            L. Jussim

            "A Google employee recently shared a memo that referenced some of my scholarly research on psychological sex differences[...]. Alongside other evidence, the employee argued, in part, that this research indicates affirmative action policies based on biological sex are misguided. Maybe, maybe not. "
            D. Schmitt

            "[...]this memo unleashed a firestorm of negative commentary, most of which ignored the memo’s evidence-based arguments. Among commentators who claim the memo’s empirical facts are wrong, I haven’t read a single one who understand sexual selection theory, animal behavior, and sex differences research."
            G. Milller

            "As a woman who’s worked in academia and within STEM, I didn’t find the memo offensive or sexist in the least. I found it to be a well thought out document, asking for greater tolerance for differences in opinion, and treating people as individuals instead of based on group membership."
            D. Soh

            It is interesting to note that while Schmitt (who is extensively cited in Damore's memo) seems a bit critical of Damore, he basically confirms what Damore says: he keeps saying that treating sexes as dichotomous is wrong, which is exactly what Damore said. In fact Schmitt writes: "treating people as dichotomous sexes is exactly what many affirmative action policies do" (that is what Damore was rebutting).

            Many tried to misrepresent the Google Memo, including Wired [wired.com], where you can read things like:

            “It is unclear to me that this sex difference would play a role in success within the Google workplace (in particular, not being able to handle stresses of leadership in the workplace. That’s a huge stretch to me),” writes Schmitt. So, yes, that’s the researcher Damore cites disagreeing with Damore.

            That seems a rebuttal of Damore's claim, by the same author he cited. Except for the fact that Damore never said something like: "women can't handle the stresses of leadership in the workplace". Nor he implied that. When you resort to straw man arguments, you probably lack a strong point.

            • A very good analysis/rebuttal.

              This whole thing confuses me though. Any rational person can see what Damore was talking about and understand it. Even if they disagree with his conclusions, there are no indications that the paper is misogynistic or even insulting to anyone of either gender.

              So how is this "paper" a huge firestorm? Anyone can read it. It says what is says. It does not say what some people think it says.

              I suspect there is some sort of mental illness going on here and I can not quite identify it.

          • his conclusions are wrong

            Conclusions are ... not facts, they are opinions. His opinions are wrong, so he must be fired for wrongthink!

          • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @02:46PM (#55916359)

            So well researched and reasoned that the authors of the two papers he relies on the most have publicly stated that he didn't understand them, and that his conclusions are wrong.

            The basic mistake he makes repeatedly is to assume that the variations the papers discuss have vastly more effect and influence than they actually do.

            He didn't assume the magnitude and influence of the effect. The difference has been measured [cambridge.org] for decades in observed data [scientificamerican.com] over thousands of studies. If those opposed to Damore could only find two paper authors on the topic who disagreed with him, then that sounds like a pretty strong validation of his claims, not a rebuttal. Heck, I could throw a rock blindfolded and hit two climate change denying studies.

            Why is stating that women have a higher rate of neurosis a fireable offense. But stating that men have a higher rate of schizophrenia is not?

            The problem Damore's case shows us is that too many people are judging the merits of these statements based on which group they portray in a negative light. Not upon the objective validity of the statement. If you wanted to counter Damore's statements on neurosis and gender, the logical (quickest and easiest) way to do it would be as I've done above - showing that there are other psychological gender differences which work against men biologically dominating an occupation. Then you can claim that perhaps these effects cancel out so a 50/50 gender distribution really should be expected.

            But that's not what Damore's opponents do. They instead try to debunk measurable, objective data that's well-established science. They cannot stand to hear anything negative said about a group they care for (i.e. non-white, non-male, non-conservative, non-religious). So their gut instinct is that the statement that neurosis is more common among women "must be" wrong, and they conclude disproving it will be the quickest route to disproving him.

          • Re: And yet... (Score:4, Informative)

            by poity ( 465672 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @08:26PM (#55918949)
            The Damore memo itself is so full of caveats that anyone who still frames it as some extremist document, nearly half a year out, must be a lazy mofo.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Ah yes, 'micro-aggression' like man-spreading or fartrape. Fartrape is "Farting louder the man is using passive-aggressive violence to position himself as dominant, this intimidates the woman to subconciously not release as much flatulence and thus the woman fearing for her safety doesn't far as loud as a sign of submissiveness, this in turn contributes to rape culture and women being opressed" - Ahsleigh Ingle, CUPE Leader & Teacher #fartrape was a trending tag on Twitter at one point. People were acc
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lgw ( 121541 )

        There is a line between discussion and Trolling.

        And this is what we don't know about the discussions that were shut down, We're they too trollish? Alternatively, were they too convincing of a viewpoint management didn't like? (I've been told in the past by a manager to stop explaining my cynicism to the new hires because management needed to abuse them while they still believed the lies.)

      • "Normally if there is a conflict between rights of the minority, vs the rights of the majority to oppress the minority. The minority group will win." This depends on your definition of "win" usually in such conflicts, large percentages and sometimes the majority of the minority group die.
    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      Maybe Google just wants to avoid an unfruitful and overly emotional debate about a highly controversial topic. I wouldn't blame them for that, but the right way to do it would be to spell out clearly in company policy which topics are taboo.

    • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:49AM (#55914953) Homepage Journal

      The more obvious and simpler explanation is that, like every workplace, if you start distributing controversial stuff it eventually becomes an issue. People ask you to stop because it's primarily a workplace, not a political debating forum, and if it's bad enough you can get fired.

      That's all it is.

      • by sfcat ( 872532 )

        The more obvious and simpler explanation is that, like every workplace, if you start distributing controversial stuff it eventually becomes an issue. People ask you to stop because it's primarily a workplace, not a political debating forum, and if it's bad enough you can get fired.

        That's all it is.

        He wasn't fired. He left of his own accord.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I was referring to Damore with that part.

          • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Informative)

            by sfcat ( 872532 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @12:20PM (#55915169)

            I was referring to Damore with that part.

            He wrote one on-topic memo. This guy kept posting off-topic even after being asked to stop. And in the Damore situation, the people who brought attention to it in that case were the SJWs who leaked the memo, not Damore. So your OP was just plain off topic. Maybe you just haven't had your morning coffee yet.

          • And the fact that Damore got fired and this guy didn't just bolsters Damore's case and make you look like a prejudiced moron.
      • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @12:06PM (#55915063)
        Yup. Most people just want to do their work and then go home and get on with their lives. The majority of people tend to keep their heads down and avoid stuff like this which is both why we don't hear about it very often and also part of the reason that things like this can fester for so long.

        I don't think it's possible to maybe even healthy to try to stifle any conversation that isn't work related. There's always going to be political talk around water coolers or over beers at lunch, but when people start trying to effect company policy or process with their own personal projects, it tends to piss off at least one other person who doesn't care for whatever is being pushed. It's the same with more banal stuff like people evangelizing some new programming language or other piece of technology instead of anything political. The rest of the team doesn't want to switch to a new language or framework just because someone did a small side project in it and thinks its cool.
      • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by iMadeGhostzilla ( 1851560 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @12:13PM (#55915121)

        Take a look at Exhibit B in the filing and judge for yourself: https://www.scribd.com/documen... [scribd.com]

        Quite a few of the posts are saying if you support Trump -- or even Republicans in general -- you are a Nazi and deserve everything that comes your way, from demotion and firing to fists in your face, complete with instructions how to punch.

        Very simple, if you're not completely with us, you are a Nazi, and it's your damn fault.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Solandri ( 704621 )
          This is the problem with affirmative action. It creates an atmosphere where certain types of discrimination (e.g. against males, whites and asians) are acceptable, when the actual goal is to eliminate discrimination. Don't get me wrong, affirmative action has a valid mathematical basis - in engineering (underdamped system) [hydraulicspneumatics.com] we use it to force a system to change states more quickly. But it comes at the cost of a twitchy response and overshoot, resulting in taking longer to settle down to a steady state.
          • All the AA regulations say/do is that a company has to keep records of it's hiring decisions. At no point in time did AA have quotas. That was a myth. This isn't to say individual institutions might not have done quotas, but it wasn't AA that made them do it. It was a private decision (and also one that, had anyone bothered, could be challenged and ruled illegal. Yes, being a White Male is a protected class).

            You're fury is being directed towards Affirmative Action so you'll ignore the real reason why yo
            • by Shotgun ( 30919 )

              All the AA regulations say/do is that a company has to keep records of it's hiring decisions. At no point in time did AA have quotas. That was a myth. This isn't to say individual institutions might not have done quotas, but it wasn't AA that made them do it. It was a private decision (and also one that, had anyone bothered, could be challenged and ruled illegal. Yes, being a White Male is a protected class).

              This is what is cause "plausible deniability". We didn't TELL them to use quotas, but we would sure as hell have used those statistics against them in any lawsuit that came around. How do you provably show that you do not discriminate against minorities? You show that you hire and promote minorities just like majority. You can't just say, "but...but...we have some black managers and female engineers." The SJWs will immediately turn to the statistics.

              The same problem exists when declaring that one is no

    • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @12:01PM (#55915037) Homepage
      There are three simple explanations for this: First, Google's management may just push back hard on anyone rocking the boat in any direction. Second, the pushback in each cases may have come from different people or different levels. Damore seems to have had the most pushback from fellow rank-and file employees. It is possible there's a disconnect between management and employees. Third, Google has many different locations, it is possible that company culture at difference offices is wildly different. All of these explanations are consistent with both stories.
      • It is possible there's a disconnect between management and employees.

        Gee...ya think?

        I don't think I've ever been in a company where management and employees were on the same wavelength...not for long, anyway. Management has their ideas of how the company's running and what the goals are. It's rare that they effectively communicate them on any consistent basis to the employees, and even rarer that they listen to and (yet rarer) act on what they hear back. Management doesn't think the employees can grasp the "subtle business nuances" that influence their decisions, and empl

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          I don't think I've ever been in a company where management and employees were on the same wavelength...not for long, anyway.

          At a broad level there are often disconnects, but where legal constraints exist there's seldom any major difference. None of the companies I've worked at would tolerate sexism, racism or illegal discrimination at a management or employee level.

          Politics is an acceptable conversation item but bullying or demeaning people because of their views is not. Religion tends to be a more difficult area because of the fuckwit religions that mandate death to unbelievers; makes it hard to point out how full of shit they

    • It's not the policies that are the problem, it's the process of implementing them. The problem here is that Google opened up those policies for debate and thereby lifted the cover on a cesspit. Rather than realise they'd made a mistake and shut that debate down they let it run and left the impression that their diversity policies were open to influence by their employees, many of whom have underdeveloped social skills, an overdeveloped sense of their own worth and no clue of how a business is run. Cue ill-
      • by sfcat ( 872532 )

        It's not the policies that are the problem, it's the process of implementing them. The problem here is that Google opened up those policies for debate and thereby lifted the cover on a cesspit. Rather than realise they'd made a mistake and shut that debate down they let it run and left the impression that their diversity policies were open to influence by their employees, many of whom have underdeveloped social skills, an overdeveloped sense of their own worth and no clue of how a business is run. Cue ill-tempered name-calling.

        If you believe you need a diversity policy, you devise it and impose it, you don't debate it with the people who will that assume they're the target of it (whether they are or not) because you want them to be clear they'll be fired if they don't comply.

        Your company must have a great culture with many happy employees. Are you sure you know how human organizations run? Cause your plan is a great recipe for bitter, unmotivated workers.

      • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @12:52PM (#55915443) Journal

        There is room for some legitimate discussion there, though, because Googles diversity policy wasn't working - they weren't meeting their quota.

        There's one point in Damore's memo that I have first-hand experience with (for whatever an aneecdote's worth). The job of an SDE is technical in all aspects, but it's both abstract (coding) and interpersonal (design discussion, selling people on your ideas, creating consensus). When I interviewed with Google, the focus was more on the abstract than any other place I've ineterviewed (which is a wide sample). Even the design questions weren't design discussions, they were just me talking.

        That experience convinced me to walk away from Google (well, there were other danger signs too), for fear the job might actually be like that. And I'm a very nerdy introvert.

        If you want to recruit more women and meet your quota, change your damn interview focus Google! Sure, a chunk of the interview needs to be purely "prove you can code", but the rest should give both sides confidence that it will be fun to collaborate on problem solving, because that's at least half of the job.

        Anyway, that sort of discussion would seem useful to have, since they aren't meeting their goals with their current approach.

    • Which is why these discussions do not belong in the workplace.

      FTA:

      The idea of trying to alter a companyâ(TM)s culture all by yourself is almost as stupid as the myth of meritocracy the tech industry is so in love with

      It is a meritocracy, but if your personal foibles overshadow your work then you are worth less as an employee. Now that can be a tricky matrix: a lower-skilled employee that is trouble free may be worth more to the business then a rock star that is constantly causing problems outside the

    • we have another employee suing because he felt discriminated-against because of policies designed to increase diversity.

      That's exactly backwards.

      Damore is suing because he was *FOR* promoting diversity, and was fired for discussing ideas related to that. That's literally the whole basis of his lawsuit.

      Any discrimination against him was not because of the policies related to diversity, but because the people did not like his ideas related to promoting diversity.

  • Erm hang on (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    >provides a striking counterpoint

    I don't think so, it looks more like managers have their idea of how they want "diversity" to operate (for diversity read tokenism, PR nonsense, and a complete obedience to management ideas at all times).

    *ironic captcha == 'complied' :P

  • Slanted story (Score:2, Interesting)

    Altheide posted several articles and comments to internal discussion groups that promoted diversity in the workplace and was chastised for doing so, he wrote.

    Given that was exactly the same as what Damore did, I don't see how it's a counterpoint. Or is it that Gizmodo only approves of Altheide's diversity and Damore's diversity is "wrong"?

    Fortunately, there's a lawsuit by Damore and Gudeman against Google happening, so it's quite likely the matter will be explored fully and we can all enjoy finding out what's been going on.

    • We know exactly what Damore's memo said. There are no quotes from Altheide's posts in the article, except thread titles (“If you think women in tech is just a pipeline problem, you haven’t been paying attention" and "Just Asking Questions").

      Why do I have the suspicion that these posts weren't as well reasoned (and backed up by cited scientific research) as Damore's memo?
    • Sigh. The point the article was making was that Damore is suing Google for being too pro-diversity and Altheid quit because Google was not pro-diversity enough. That's important because it undercuts the premise behind Damore's lawsuit that conservative opinions are silenced because they're conservative. It points to an alternate explanation, that diversity discussions were being shut down because they were controversial and not beneficial to the work environment. If Damore posted his memo after the dive

      • by sfcat ( 872532 )

        Sigh. The point the article was making was that Damore is suing Google for being too pro-diversity and Altheid quit because Google was not pro-diversity enough. That's important because it undercuts the premise behind Damore's lawsuit that conservative opinions are silenced because they're conservative. It points to an alternate explanation, that diversity discussions were being shut down because they were controversial and not beneficial to the work environment. If Damore posted his memo after the diversity discussions had already been shut down, more than once, because of internal flame wars, he may have been fired not for his specific views but rather for disobeying the request to let the issue go, and deliberately stirring up trouble.

        Actually, that's exactly wrong. Damore was fired for just writing one memo in an on-topic forum. This guy repeatedly distracted work groups with off-topic threads multiple times, even after he was asked to stop. Even then he wasn't fired, he quit because he was asked to stop by an executive (poorly). Damore's lawyers are asserting that Google is filled with people like Altheid and now we have an example of this and even after multiple disruptive incidents he wasn't fired and instead stormed off on his o

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:43AM (#55914905)

    This isn't exactly a "counter-point". From an article about Damore's case:

    “We want to be inclusive of people not ideas” one employee identified as Alon Altman wrote in a message included in the lawsuit. Damore says that sentiment was backed up at an Inclusion and Diversity Summit he attended in June, when he was told by Google employees the company does not value “viewpoint diversity,” but actively strives for “demographic diversity.”

    This new memo seems to reinforce this perspective. It might not be illegal or anything, but this memo definately doesn't "counter" the claims included in damore's suit.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:44AM (#55914921)

    This whole diversity/gender debate thing is getting and more into an absurd territory of epic proportions. It's quite some time ago that I've been able to take larger parts of mainstream contributions to this debate seriously.

    To me a very welcome addition of reason and level-headedness was the open letter of ~100 women of influence and fame in France [lemonde.fr] speaking out against #MeToo, it's totalitarianism and a false pretense of feminism published two days ago in Le Monde (basically the French nyt) that went largely unnoticed/uncovered by mainstream media. These ladies deserve a medal or something and they deserve to be heard, despite mainstream media trying to ignore them.

  • Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:53AM (#55914981)
    The problem with these pro-diversity talks, is that we're hiring people because they're diverse, rather then if they're skilled and the right fit. If you see a development team who is all white and male, you have SJW's crying discrimination, when in fact, in 99.999% of cases, you have qualified people, the right people working together. People shouldn't be hired because they're diverse, they should be hired because they're the right fit.
    • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @12:23PM (#55915195)
      I don't think that anybody would argue with your point. However, if you find that the people who are the "right fit" are all white and male, it's indicative of some sort of problem. Hiring "diverse" candidates who aren't the "right fit" isn't a solution because you are taking an action that (at best, barely) treats a symptom. In the US, white males are 31% of the population. There's nothing about the other 69% of people that would make the unqualified. If you're genuinely looking for the "right fit" but only seem to be able to hire from 31% of the population, it makes sense to take a good hard look at the reasons. An easier analogy is to imagine that you are selling a food item that only appeals to 31% of the population and you want to grow revenue. Well, if you could make it appealing for 100% of the population, that may be easier than trying to win market share among the 31%.
      • However, if you find that the people who are the "right fit" are all white and male, it's indicative of some sort of problem

        Maybe, maybe not. Check out people doing hobby projects with "Arduino" boards on youtube. Most of them are white and male. Is that a problem ? Is there anybody trying to stop other groups buying these boards or recording videos about them ? You can mail order them from Amazon for $30. That's not a huge obstacle for anyone. All the information on how to run them is available on the internet, and nobody is prevented from reading it.

      • I cannot force non-white, non-males into STEM fields. I neither can, nor would I want to be able to because I think everyone should have the right to choose their job according to their abilities and their preferences. Saying that you only hire from 31% of the population isn't quite justified when there simply are way fewer people other than white males entering this job area.

        I think you ask the wrong question. The question is not primarily "why do only get white males hired" but "why do only white males en

        • I don't think we are in much disagreement here. If you are in a position of hiring, you should first ask "why do only white males get hired" since that's the problem as it is presented to you. The answer *may* be "only white males enter this job segment." That then brings up the follow-up question of "why do only white males enter this job segment." Of course I cannot make food appealing to every *person* but I can make food that is equally appealing across various demographics. If I'm a large food man
          • Actually, when I'm hiring I cannot ask that question because I don't get to see any information about sex, age, race, place of origin or other information that could REMOTELY be used to construct some kind of bias. I see credentials and prior jobs. And bluntly, that's all I care about when it comes to applicants.

            So far you haven't pointed out why I would care whether more women enter the STEM fields, though. I don't care about the gender, race or anything else of the people I work with. What I care about is

            • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @02:29PM (#55916221)

              So far you haven't pointed out why I would care whether more women enter the STEM fields

              And why the focus on STEM fields ? There are lots of jobs that have unequal gender participation, but we don't hear nearly as many complaints about those. The elementary school that my kids went to had 15 female teachers and 1 male one. The only male teacher ended up leaving.

              • Who says that there isn't a focus on male teachers. Maybe it doesn't make the front page of /. but there are plenty of people focused on it. I don't know what schools and school districts do to try to increase diversity and get more male teachers since I don't work in education and have never participated in hiring educators. Do you have some data that STEM companies focus on diversity more than employers in the education industry?
            • I don't know why *you* would care as I know nothing other than your /. handle. But the reason Google (and other employers care) is because there is a structural shortage of tech workers that isn't going to get better short of an economic calamity. We have a saying. "Reqs are easy. Hiring is hard." Many businesses are having a difficult time because there just aren't enough people to hire. Whey an individual should care (even if they don't participate in hiring) is that the current situation may (or ma
        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          I think you ask the wrong question. The question is not primarily "why do only get white males hired" but "why do only white males enter this job segment".

          Google's hiring practices strongly disagree with you - to the extent that white people are highly under-represented at the company, compared to the national demographics.

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @01:12PM (#55915583)
      the goal of these diversity talks is to get more skilled candidates by any means necessary. Tech Businesses are concerned that women and minorities don't enter tech because of a hostile work environment. Having worked in lots of all male tech shops yeah, they're right. There's a lot of casual sexual harassment that turns women off. What we men call 'locker room talk'.

      Now, that said their goals are not noble. The point is to have more people to hire from to depress wages. Period. They're not doing this for diversity or SWJism, they're doing it for cheap labor. As always, follow the money.
      • +1 for SWJism! That's great :)

        If they want to be treated like everyone else in the work place and the work place is pro sexual harassment, then they have to deal with it, period. I'm not going to act differently or talk differently because a woman walks in, she can adapt and react, not force change. My current development team actually is 1/3 female, 1/3 middle eastern and 1/3 white and we all preform at our peaks with no need to change how we work or act. We often make sexist jokes back and forth,
      • by RedK ( 112790 )

        There's a lot of casual sexual harassment that turns women off. What we men call 'locker room talk'.

        Maybe you've never worked with women. Their "locker room talk" can be worse than men's. Especially women who work in IT, and thus share more character and personality traits with your typical "Brogrammer" than an HR employee.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe Altheide was trying to discuss REAL diversity, and not the faux diversity that stops at the color of your skin and the shape of your genitals that's so fashionable at Google?

    In other words, a REAL discussion?

    You know, kinda like Damore did?

  • by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:53AM (#55914985)

    FTFA:

    Over the course of several months, employees engaged in a debate about gender representation at Google in an internal thread titled “If you think women in tech is just a pipeline problem, you haven’t been paying attention.” The debate became contentious, Altheide said in his memo, and had to be shut down by Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president of ads and commerce, and Urs Holzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure. . . .

    Ramaswamy wrote: “Google is not a debate club or a philosophy class. We are a workplace and we have an obligation to make sure our discussions remain respectful. Debates around topics like product excellence can support a wide variety of viewpoints and are great to have. I don’t think the same can be said for debates around sensitive issues such as gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation.”

  • Bad headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday January 12, 2018 @11:55AM (#55915003) Homepage Journal

    If you RTFA what Google execs did was shut down contentious discussions about diversity. Altheide posted pro-diversity comments which apparently tended to spark big flamewars, and he was told to stop.

    The fact is that this is a contentious topic in the tech industry, inside Google just as much as everywhere else (including slashdot, obviously). Google employees have lots of internal communications fora which are unpoliced and heavily used, and the employees are not closely monitored, which creates a risk that when contentious topics arise on these internal fora people get sucked in, wasting a lot of time and generating a lot of bad blood, both of which have significant negative impacts on productivity.

    One of the core tenets of Google culture is that one should always assume good faith and competence on the part of their colleagues (unless proven otherwise, obviously), but that's a tenet that works much better in a small company that is highly selective in its hires. In most situations it works reasonably well in a big company that is highly selective in its hires... but as you grow the law of averages catches up with you and assholes and incompetents sneak in. This is particularly true around areas that won't come up in an interview, like attitudes about diversity.

    As a Google employee, my takeaway is "This is why we can't have nice things." Open discussion fora with light oversight, and a culture of internal transparency and openness are really awesome, but they appear to be incompatible with being a large multinational corporation. Sigh.

    • Agreed. I thought this comment from the article summed it up nicely:

      Fleur-de-lit - 1/11/18 10:38pm

      Sounds like they just wanted to douse flamewars that were using up company resources. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

      It's no different than someone creating any other type of provocative political threads on a corporate message board creating a massive distraction for employees and a waste of time for no productive gain.

    • Reading through Altheide's document, it seems like he was actively virtue signaling as much as possible on intranet forums and was somehow hurt that a high level Google executive went out of their way to reign him in.

      In the document, he calls an HR worker a liar even though the emails he presents do not show the woman saying what he said she said (she never mentioned a managers name nor who would be on the call).

      And half of the document seems to have language where he's offended that he was not allowed
    • As a Google employee, my takeaway is "This is why we can't have nice things." Open discussion fora with light oversight, and a culture of internal transparency and openness are really awesome, but they appear to be incompatible with being a large multinational corporation. Sigh.

      I'd say rather "this is why you can't have it both ways".

      The Google's of the world love to pretend that they want a "discussion" or a "dialog", but in reality if one should break out, they lower the boom.

  • There is always someone who has to complain about how they are treated. It's a job, and if you don't like it move on. What I do find really interesting is the image Google is showing to the world. It appears Google wants their employees to fit their mold and not question. In the case of diversity, if you question for or against it doesn't matter. What matters is what Google HR is pushing. Remember: HR is there for the company, not the employee. I would be worried for Google and this image as the bes
  • It seems to me the root of the problem is the fact that companies want to hire based on "merit" but that is contradictory to diversity because external to the company, educational opportunities are not equal and penalize people that to an extent can be connected with their diversity. Since a given corporation doesn't see itself as responsible for the lack of diversity in the surrounding society, it doesn't see that it should be the one to fix the problem. And since the problem is external to individual
  • You are not paid because you are worth anything as humab beings. You are paid to act as code/design repairing machine who just happen to be human. Do what you are paid and say nothing, these rights are only reserved to others who are superior to you.

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