Google engineer James Damore has been in the headlines recently for posting an op-ed on biases on Google’s internal social media. Many of the headline stories I’ve read about the episode refer to the memo he circulated there as sexist, biased, and misogynistic, among other sorts of labels carrying negative connotations that imply some sort of bigotry. So, today, after I read he had been fired for the content of the memo, I was naturally curious about it and wanted to read it for myself.
I found what is purported to be the memo in full on Gizmo. Here is my take on it and why Mr. Damore was fired:
In a nutshell, it seems to me that Damore feels the same sort of opinion suppression at work that most of us feel while we are at work, and he mistakenly attributes this feeling to his perception of reverse discrimination on the part of Goggle, as if the firm is focused more on diversity than positive results, and he rationalizes it as having more to do with politics.
Where I work, before the IT outsourcing division I am in was sold to another company, we had an internal social media system that was similar to Facebook. I rarely read it because I couldn’t believe the audacity of some people to post unprofessional things there, as if they cannot tell the difference between personal social media like Facebook accounts and professional social media. They posted things like the intimate details of their misery while at work, to pictures of their kids, pets, etc… Perhaps I am old school, but my opinion is that those things are out of place on the company’s internal social media, and one should not post content there that would be inappropriate to discuss during even a casual business meeting.
I believe that most people would rather be somewhere else while they are at work, and interactions with coworkers are, for the most part, business related and should be kept that way during business hours. It isn’t appropriate for a coworker to burden colleagues with their personal misery at the firm, politics, or specific grievances because they have plenty of them of their own to deal with as we are all there to focus on doing a job to bring home a pay check to feed our families and have as comfortable of a life outside of work as our incomes will allow. In short, that is why I am at work, not to be a dorm mate.
Whether the content of Mr. Damore’s posting on Google’s internal social media matches the descriptions in many of the headlines I’ve seen, which I don’t believe so, is immaterial. If he had written his rant about Google management on his own time and posted it on his Facebook account (his own resources), it would be an entirely different matter. He would have been right to raise those kinds of concerns behind closed doors with the appropriate management, but not the way he did it. Instead, he had the audacity to treat his colleagues as dorm mates and air deep grievances about the way the company is managed in an accusatory manner on company time with company resources. If it were within my power to fire him, I probably would have done it twice, once for justice and again for personal satisfaction.