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CORNELL AEM 2200 - Google Ethics Case

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12/3/18 Google Ethics In August of 2017 Google fired James Damore, who was a 28-year-old software engineer who had been working for the company for four years. Damore’s termination came after he wrote an internal company memo entitled “Google’s Identical Echo Chamber”. The memo elaborated on his notion that gender disparities within the tech world were at least partially due to biological differences between men and women, rather than factors such as gender discrimination, hiring biases, or a hostile workplace. Damore outlines personality traits that he deems to be the reason why women are less qualified for coding. He states that women have a stronger interest in people rather than things, as they are better empathizing that systemizing and prefer more social and artistic jobs. Damore explained that the extraversion of a woman is expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness, which is solely a women’s issue. In his final assertion about the biological differences between men and women, Damore wrote that women have higher levels of neuroticism that leads to higher anxiety and lower stress tolerance, and that men have a higher drive for status. Damore’s memo was publicized during the height of the #MeToo movement, where women were voicing their stories and concerns about discomfort in the workplace due to sexual harassment and discrimination. At the time at which the memo was released, 20 percent of Google’s tech force, 25 percent of its leadership, and 31 percent of itsoverall staff were women. As a result, many women felt hurt and judged based on their gender and felt the need to try to prove Damore’s memo wrong by trying not to portray the traits that he outlined. While Google had the support from other organizations that supported women’s rights, the company also experienced backlash regarding Damore’s termination. Damore expressed that he felt as though Google was silencing his opinions and hinderinghis right to free speech because he challenged Google’s liberal and “politically correct monoculture.” While the company’s social and collaborative corporate culture supports open dialogue and the facilitation of different opinions, Google executives confirmed that employees must engage in free speech within the confines of company policy. However, many critics support Damore, as they believe that the company has gone beyond pushing their products and instead has been promoting a particular kind of politics and inhibiting his. Right to free speech. Google itself is based in Silicon Valley, which is considered a liberal area, as only 20 percent of citizen voted for conservative candidates in the most recent election. In progressive environments, conservatives often feel like they need to stay in the closest to avoid open hostility; which is exactly how Damore felt. Damore also had supporters of the content of his memo, as an evolutionary psychology professor and the writer of the article Damore cited both corroborated his statements. There women and non-Asian people of color are underrepresented minorities within the tech world, and there are several, hypothesis as to why this occurs. The pipeline between female college graduates and the tech world has been severely lacking, and women tend to leave tech jobs at twice the rate of men due to unfair workplace conditions and a sense of feeling stalled in one’s career. Implicit bias also plays a role, as societal stereotypes have led to the general assumption that women are not as good at math as men are. Google has put many diversity efforts in place thus far, but the workplace is not more diverse than the general landscape of the tech world. Google’s vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Danielle Brown must decide to either double down on diversity initiatives, make a formal effort to protect and promote freedom of expression, or launch a significant initiative to promote psychological safetywithin the corporation. The criteria the decision should be based on are: ease of implementation, employee satisfaction, long term sustainability, and the maintenance of corporate


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