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Google has a mess on its hands with internal discrimination

Google sign at CES
Google sign at CES (Image credit: Android Central)

Last August, Google was placed under the spotlight for firing James Damore after he shared his controversial memorandum to Google's internal networks. The memo talked about the wage gap between men and women in the engineering field, and Damore tried to explain that this gap existed due to biological difference between males and females.

Earlier this year, Damore issued a class action lawsuit against Google with the claim that the company discriminated against white, conservative males. This whole situation has (unsurprisingly) resulted in a lot of commotion, and amidst all of this, Wired recently interviewed some employees at Google to get an idea for how this is affecting workers within the company.

After the Damore filed the lawsuit, Google employees report that diversity advocates at the company were subject to unrelenting harassment, with some of this going as far as their addresses, phone numbers, and pre-transition names for transgender employees being publically shared on the likes of 4chan.

Speaking to Wired, Engineer Colin McMillen said:

Now it's like basically anything you say about yourself may end up getting leaked to score political points in a lawsuit. I have to be very careful about choosing my words because of the low-grade threat of doxing. But let's face it, I'm not visibly queer or trans or non-white and a lot of these people are keying off their own white supremacy.

Google's security team has reportedly done their part in tackling any physical threats that are made, and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Danielle Brown has "been supportive and reassuring" during these recent events. However, not everything is perfect:

But, they say they have not been told the outcome of complaints they filed against coworkers they believe are harassing them, and that top executives have not responded assertively to concerns about harassment and doxing. As a result, some employees now check hate sites for attempts at doxing Google employees, which they then report to Google security.

At Google, employees are required to go through training for ethnic, racial, and sexual diversity. Damore said in the memorandum that the training programs are "highly politicized" and that they alienated non-progressive individuals, but an anonymous black female employee says:

The programs lack context about discrimination and inequality and focus on interpersonal relationships, instructing employees to watch what they say because it might hurt someone's feelings. "It robs Google of the chance to discuss these issues," and leaves criticisms unanswered, she says. She says co-workers and her manager have described diversity as "just another box to check and a waste of time."

In addition to these current events, former engineer Cory Altheide said that problems go back as far as 2015 when he quit. According to Altheide, one Google wrote on an internal blog that said:

Blacks are not equal to whites. Therefore the 'inequality' between these races is expected and makes perfect sense.

Wired says that Google's confirmed it's met with all employees that have shown concern regarding these issues, and while this whole situation will likely continue to develop over the coming months, it is interesting (and a bit disheartening) to get a closer look inside how this is affecting real people on the day-to-day.

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Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • Not defending Google here, but discrimination is everywhere. Younger folks are more vocal I guess to show what they feel and what they see. I have seen folks get promoted because they are part of diversity but then where is the performance based promotion or pay ?
  • Based on RACE as well
  • What race?
  • Regardless of which side you're on, I'd encourage people to read James Damore's memo. Whether you decide to agree with his viewpoint and conclusion is up to you, but it's best to read his exact words vs. the media's inherently biased interpretation. Either way, Google has quite the mess on their hands, and I suspect the rest of Silicon Valley faces similar issues.
  • Read the lawsuit too, I found it enlightening.
  • yeah, the examples cited in the lawsuit are really disturbing. I was in IT at a nationwide retailer in the northwest during the early 2000's. Based in Seattle, I was conservative but didn't flout it around as Seattle was and is extremely liberal. Once it was found out by my boss and others the change in attitude was palpable, and I knew I wasn't going anywhere in that department. Tried to transfer and that was the kiss of death, and it was only a matter of time till I was pushed out.
  • Always good advice to be honest. Seek out the actual facts before you form an opinion.
  • Lol, right now this has -2. This whole topic brings out people who can't stand reason, just their emotional anecdotal experiences.
  • Agreed. And although I think Google has a problem with being a little too open in the workplace, I read Damore's memo and it's pretty bad. I don't think the media has been unfair in its interpretation. As far as I'm concerned it's a case of a decent point completely drowned out by his poor writing and tone deaf pseudo science portrayed as fact.
  • I agree with you regarding the pseudo science. Any point he may of had or hoped to make is lost when he uses pseudo science to back it up. After reading his memo he reminded me of an athlete I knew in high school. He was the best football/basketball player in the area. One of the best football players in the state. AT the time he tied the state career interception record and he only played football for two years. He received all kinds of scholarship offers. When he got to college he was just another football player and he couldn't take it. He only lasted 1/2 a season before he quit.
    James Damore was probably used to being the "best" throughout high school and college and when he got to Google he was just another "genius". No one knows for sure why he didn't get promotions but if he has no people skills or has a hard time getting along with co-workers he won't get promoted.
    There was an article in December talking about how a good number of the best ideas at Google are coming from teams without the "best and brightest" now, Teams that don't have the top computer engineers, just regular people.
  • Pseudo science???? You have to be joking! He mastered in systems biology at Harvard!!! The FACTS he stated are agreed upon by the experts! I don't know how you could possibly claim to know what is pseudoscience when he is the one with the Harvard degree in systems biology!
  • Unless these experts have published their findings in peer reviewed journals it doesn't count. That's what has been lost in the last few decades. Anyone online can claim to be an expert and have "evidence" to back up their opinion. For Christ sake there are experts that claim to have proof the Earth is flat.
  • You are claiming to be an expert with a whole lot less evidence, which is NONE! You made a whole ton of stupid assumptions about James in an earlier comment showing that you clearly don't understand him or the lawsuit. Here are some of the MANY experts that agree with the FACTS presented by James Damore:
  • If you read Damores lawsuit there is hundreds of disturbing examples as well against more conservative or Caucasian employees. It sounds like google has an internal culture problem that is toxic to people on all ends of the political spectrum. I read some of the things that people write on company time at google and compare it to rules of conduct at my own very large company and I can see the root of the problem. Ultimately everyone is there to do a job and regardless of your background or beliefs you should be respectful to everyone at work and leave your politics at the door.
  • Agreed.
  • I’m so sick of people wearing their political leanings like a badge of honor when both sides are screwing us. Keep that **** at your dinner tables or Saturday morning protests. No one at work should be subjected to your propaganda, and that goes for both sides. The company you work shouldn't even know whether you're conservative or not, nor should the company promote one side or the other. In addition GOOGLE, your hiring and promotion process should be based on MERIT and hard work, not someone's color.
  • Exactly a lot of companies have attempted to correct the massive in balance of the past when it comes to the biased hiring and non merit based achievements. Unfortunately moving to the other extreme triggers the sexist racist and homophobic people among us and we come full circle.
  • AWESOME, insightful words...right here. Politics have NOTHING to do with how well you can do your job. I've had friends who've applied to Google a number of times over the years, but have never gotten their "foot in the door" -- presumably because they're white males, with obviously Caucasian-sounding names. Get your head out of your corporate ASS, Google. It certainly doesn't make any difference to me -- most of my friends, and certainly I, will never apply for a job at Google, as nobody wants to be part of such a toxic culture -- but Google is missing out on a ton of talented younger folks, who just happen to be non-liberal in their worldview.
  • Lol @ anyone thinking they were turned down for having a white sounding name. Jesus, what a bunch of victims.
  • What exactly do you think is going on here?
  • clearly not that...
  • Just like when there was an outcry against affirmative action. Then, all the stats proved that removing it, whites (under privileged) got hurt the most. And the ones who benefited the most were Asians. So, for those uninformed, if you see less whites running the show in Silicone Valley or Graduating Ivy Schools, it's precisely based on Merits.
    Just look at even at the lowest-youngest level accomplishments. Spelling Bee champs are mostly 2 gen immigrants from India.
    Who does best in math on avg - Asians. List goes on.
    White kids from low income households wouldn't stand a chance signing into great schools, if it wasn't for affirmative action these days.
    It's all about the socio-economics and the culture with specific communities.
  • I'm glad I don't work for children!
  • I'll queue up the Avenue Q...
  • Good thing they are focusing on stuff like this instead of reducing bugs in the software and hardware they push out the door...a job should about good quality work you do and leave all politics and SJW crap at the door.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Chief... It’s 2018 and the far ”progressives” are hell bent on making ‘1984’ become a reality.
  • A diversity program is code for NO WHITE MALES and should be banned as the discriminatory practice it is. Its bizzare that i never noticed this until someone pointed it out.
  • You never noticed a straw man? Weird.
  • Not to mention what's going on now with men refusing to be alone with females. Long story short men are terrified of being alone with a female coworker. Even bosses are steering clear of subordinate females. This is going to hurt women in the work place.
  • Certainly a great time to be gay.....LOL
  • Odd. It's not rocket science to me. I didn't once think after these stories started flying around that it was at all strange or confusing. Being a dick is still not ok.
    Sexual harassment is still not ok. Not sure how this has suddenly made some males lives hard, but mines been unaffected....
  • #VirtueSignaler
  • #ConservativeCatchPhrasesAreFun
  • Not to mention people are taking Hardline Political stances.
  • I feel it is perfectly fine to discriminate against those with an inferior moral compass
  • This.
  • So, any smug fool that self righteously decides they are morally superior to you, you'll happily accept any discrimination they aim your way?
  • I don't think half the words you used mean what you think they mean....
  • Not my fault you don't get it.
  • @nevpaurion & @cliberti - The question to be answered is "Is there absolute, objective morality?" If not, then whose morality governs? How do you measure against it?
  • There's no sense in responding in a meaningful way here. Any stance that isn't in defense of ****** behavior is attached as "virtue signalling". Because we're somehow at a point in time where trying to stand up for the right thing and treating people with less power than you is an attackable offense on a man's affluence and lively hood lol.
  • Got it, it's your morality that's absolute - everyone else's be damned. Damore was just acting immorally by calling Google out for their embracement of a dog eat dog management/leadership structure.
  • People will see what they wanna read, actual statements be damned.
  • There is a preponderance of evidence showing the more you force on people one extreme of an idea (like progressivism) the more you create an equally extreme backlash (such as white supremacy). This will only get worse if Google does not moderate its diversity programs as well as supporting more free speech.
  • Correct, and Interestingly progressivism was a backlash against white supremecy, guess we've gone full circle?
  • Discrimination my are. If someone is better at a job, they are better. You want to start with diversity? Then maybe we should with sports. Oh, all of a sudden performance being more important matter when we talk about that. Whatever.
  • All Red blooded beasts, there's more to life than skin color🤔🤔
  • The memo was mad dumb; I read it. I find it incredible that people are confused by why their nasty worldviews aren't received well by the professional community. What did he hope to achieve? Maybe their diversity programs aren't working correctly, in fact they probably suck lol, but the beauty of that is it can be fixed. Much harder to fix someone who has the balls to push a memo like that than it is to fire him. I'm sure people have been fired from Google (or anywhere...) for much sillier reasons. But I digress. He didn't have to be a conservative white male to get backlash like this. What he put in that memo was illogical horseshit, and ANYONE would be fired for that.
  • Nasty? If my opinion offends you, I certainly won't apologize for it.
  • Expected behavior, moral compass confirmed.
  • My aren't you the politically correct one. Way to go with all your holier than thou virtue signaling.
  • Virtue signalling is conservative rhethoric that is slapped onto any conversation about being a decent human being. I always find that hilarious and you fell into that perfectly lol.
  • Yep. Pretty much hit the nail on the head.
  • The comments section on this site has become a cesspool in the last two years, it's embarrassing and disgusting. The community here used to be something special.
  • You have to understand when places allow anonymous comments people will tell you what they really think. If there were no repercussions at work they would do the same. For that matter in daily life on your trip to Subway someone would rub you the wrong way unless you look intimidating. So as far as the cesspool, it's always been there hiding in plain sight
  • It's not just that. Whenever you talk about politics in these socially charged times you are going to get some angry people commenting.
  • Guess it kinda sucks when conservatives pull a page from the regressive playbook, and start outing those they disagree with. It used to be that conservatives were the grown ups in the room, but I guess when your livelihoods are taken from you because your political position goes against the regressive Borg, it's only a matter of time before people start fighting fire with fire.
  • That has always been a conservative tactic - posting someone's personal info in public forum to get the unhinged to attack them. And I don't remember a time when conservatives were grownups.
  • The whole situation in society as a whole is ridiculous. I'm neither conservative or liberal but I'm sick to death of both sides trying to push their agenda on me and to be honest, the liberal side is a hell of a lot more aggressive about it. If people want to create a Graham's Number worth of new genders and sexualities then that's up to them, however it's unacceptable for this social construct to be forced onto people and to decry racism/sexism/genderism if they don't accept it. Actual discrimination will always exist unfortunately in a society with such great differences of opinion, but there is a massive difference between actual discrimination and simply not accepting your beliefs. People need to have the freedom not to accept or believe in the same things as others. Not allowing this is just as discriminatory.
  • There ought to be laws governing what people can say. The Constitution protects our right not to be offended, right?
  • It's not surprising at all that a company that spends more on lobbying than any other tech company (all either internet or liberal issues) would create an environment unfavorable to conservatives.
  • The comments section here is an example of what majority of not just tech companies but a lot of companies are like especially the big corporations. a bunch of people who get scared of the word diversity and think its an attack on them rather than a celebration of others not like them.
    when they see someone other than someone who looks like them get promoted they automatically assume its because of the skin or gender or both.
    that no way can the person be qualified or even more so than them.
    people getting mad that their offensive behaviour isn't being tolerated anymore but get mad and say you are being sensitive to calling them out because they didn't find it offensive, which is the point its not about just them anymore, you have to take into considering others too especially when you provide a service to all walks of life.
    the same people are quick to say why are people being hired on skin and gender and not merit fail to realize that for the longest time people weren't being hired as such and now you have unbalanced, so companies are trying to fix that by looking for qualified people in the categories they are missing, these are just random mouth breathers but rather people who weren't getting a chance maybe due to their ethnicity or gender because the hirer held preconceived bias thus wouldnt look past their skin or gender to look at the resume . Diversity doesn't mean you get less, people who had the whole pie are upset they have to share the pie or acting like the pie being taken away it does mean more competition, it means everyone should get a fair shake. it means you cant show up and not be spectacular and expect the job or just know or look like the hiring manager and get the job
    companies want to hire people who look like the people they provide to, representation matters
    people talk about it should be hired on merit seem to be afraid that they now have to have some merit of their own after the merits of others after being overlooked for so long are finally being recognized
  • This.
  • I think you're conflating a definition with implementation. I don't think anyone has a problem when a company is diverse, by the dictionary. I have an issue when you're hiring solely based on skin color/gender. You say "representation matters", do you think that Google is turning down "diverse" employees, or just fewer *qualified* ones apply? What if only one trans-black-womyn applies, but got a 3.0 GPA, while you have 20 white men who apply with 3.9+ GPA's from better schools? By your logic, the 3.0 GPA gets hired. I would say, fix the school, to help the trans-black-womyn get a 3.9 GPA, don't force the 3.0 GPA to be hired. Further, by your logic, shouldn't Google hire based on exact census data? 12.6% of the country is black, right? So, only 12.6% of Google should be black. If it's just numbers, why do they need "diversity advocates"? A computer could easily do those numbers.
  • There appear to be far more examples of discrimination against minorities than against "conservative whites." Damore is a whiner who expects everything to go his way, and doesn't think there should be any limits on what he has the right to say (but anyone who says anything to upset his worldview is being discriminatory).
  • Meritocracy is the best diversity.
  • Google has the right to fire anyone for any reason. The issue is with diversity. Diversity is not a moral term. The percentage of people of a particular race, gender, sexual orientation, transgender etc. Is irrelevant. What is important is diversity of ideas. Most employee's at Google are liberal. There is not any diversity of ideas. I don't here hear anyone criticizing the NBA because it is largely black players. Diversity of groups is pointless. Diversity of ideas is what is needed. We need to stop viewing people as groups but as individuals. Everyone in life has at some point been discriminated or treated unfairly. We need to stop this victim mentality. Also most people are not racist and white supremacy is less than 1% of the population. I think we need to stop obsessing over groups and treat people as individuals. We have more in common than we think.