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Google's macho memo man fired, say reports

CEO Sundar Pichai says screed crossed a line and violated company policy

By Simon Sharwood, 8 Aug 2017

The Google staffer who penned an anti-diversity tract has reportedly been fired.

Bloomberg reports that it has been contacted by James Damore, the author of the document. Damore told the financial newswire he had been dismissed for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Google USA and Google Australia/New Zealand have not responded to The Register's request for information on the matter at the time of writing.

We’re proud that Googlers champion our users and take the initiative to step forward when the interests of our users are at stake

A memo sent to all Google staff by Google CEO Sundar Pichai says: “We strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it.”

“However, portions of the memo violate our code of conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” Pichai said.

Pichai's memo quotes section 1.5.II of the company's code of conduct, which states “We are committed to a supportive work environment, where employees have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. Googlers are expected to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias, and unlawful discrimination.”

Google's alleged decision to fire Damore has sparked wide debate about freedom of speech. It's not hard to see why, as section 1.5 of Google's code of conduct says: “Any time you feel our users aren’t being well-served, don’t be bashful - let someone in the company know about it. Continually improving our products and services takes all of us, and we’re proud that Googlers champion our users and take the initiative to step forward when the interests of our users are at stake.”

At the core of Damore's document is his belief that Google's diversity programs are hurting users. Yet Pichai seems to be pointing out that Google has limits on the diversity of opinions it is willing to tolerate.

Grab some popcorn. This one's far from over. ®

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