That Other Memo and the Glass House that Google Built
Posted at 7:23h, 06 Feb 2018 in Advice by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Since memos seem to be top of mind these days, why fight it? Of course, we refer to the one that former Google employee James Damore wrote a while back, that led to his being terminated from the company, and the impending lawsuit that threatens to out a lot of practices and perhaps unwritten policies that Google would prefer not be aired in public.

It seems that memos will do that, once they’re out in the wild, and certain memos are harbingers of a deeper and more far reaching issues.

Three points to remember:

  1. Depending on their content, memos can be a double edged sword, open to interpretation;
  2. The internet is – mostly – forever;
  3. Social media is the megaphone heard round the world.

In his ten-page, 3,300-word screed entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” Damore describes, among other points, a “politically correct monoculture”…in which… “the lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology…“This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.”

Tip of the iceberg

Then came the 161-page lawsuit outing Google’s toxic culture with emails, internal memos and screenshots.

The Federalist points out a few of the more egregious parts of the retaliation against Damore and Google’s toxic work environment. Including a internal post Google manager Adam Fletcher (who) wrote in 2015 he would never hire conservatives he deemed hold hostile views. “I will never, ever hire/transfer you onto my team,” he wrote. “Ever. I don’t care if you are perfect fit or technically excellent or whatever. I will actively not work with you, even to the point where your team or product is impacted by this decision. I’ll communicate why to your manager if it comes up. You’re being blacklisted by people at companies outside of Google,” he added. “You might not have been aware of this, but people know, people talk. There are always social consequences.”

No matter how you feel about some of the content of Damore’s memo – for which he was fired for having creating a “hostile work environment,” – let’s not forget that Google was also hit with a landmark equal pay lawsuit which, as this article points out, “could become a class-action suit with thousands of class members.”

Google is a powerful company with a global footprint that it seems can be felt throughout its hallowed hallways and beyond. Good to remember that in these days of social, nothing stays under the radar. And that no matter how vast one’s reach, we are still a nation of laws.

Cultural Fit and the Law of the Land

The Damore lawsuit is a critical – and long overdue – look into the toxic culture that Google et al in Silicon Valley have created. And good to remember that while Google – and other tech companies – may not have invented the glass ceiling, they certainly have done their part in quietly perpetuating it. It would be dangerous not to hold them under the microscope, given their often unwritten/quietly applied ‘cultural’ policies, before they give a new and dangerous meaning to the term ‘glass door.’

Onward and forward.