I recently read that a James Damore was a software engineer fired by Google for writing an “anti-diversity manifesto” for the company. I decided that before jumping to conclusions on this highly criticised individual, I should read the document concerned in full:
I don’t agree with everything he wrote. Sure, he was being ‘politically incorrect’, but more importantly, he was sincere and polite in his writing. There was no malice. It read more like a diversity improvement manifesto, not an anti-diversity one, as slightly misguided as it may be.
So instead of encouraging Google’s employees to have a respectful and robust discussion on the matter, and keep it in-house (why does the world need to know about it?), in its infinite wisdom, Google sacked Mr Damore when word got out, instead of defending the value diversity of opinion brings to the table.
Having read the “manifesto” with an open mind, I form the view that Mr Damore does value diversity and inclusion, just not at the expense of diversity and inclusion of opinion. What could possibly be wrong with that? He also accepts that sexism exists, and he isn’t a fan of stereotypes – he maintained this position throughout his piece.
At no point did he write or imply that because men biologically differ from women, men therefore are superior to women. Or whether the differences are right or wrong. He just merely speculated biology may partly explain why we don’t see equal representation from women in tech and leadership. He then throws in a caveat that there are significant overlaps in traits between men and women. If anything, Mr Damore just wants us to critically think about our assumptions on gender diversity and inclusion. Critical thinking is a good thing, no?
He makes a similar speculative argument regarding personality differences, on average, between men and women. He’s not ramming his version of the ‘truth’ down our throats, he just wants us to do the good thing – critical thinking. My favourite point from Mr Damore is: “We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs”. So why do we see so many men in these jobs?
His “manifesto” is not a mere whinge piece. He suggests non-discriminatory solutions to reduce the ‘gender gap’. Yup, he wants to see an increase in women’s representation in tech and leadership without resorting to discrimination. His suggestions include:
1. Make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming.
2. Foster a corporate culture of cooperation and collaboration.
3. Foster a work flexibility culture.
Mr Damore values gender and racial diversity – the more the merrier it seems. He just believes that programs, mentoring, and classes exclusively for people of a certain gender or race is the wrong way to go about it, amongst other discriminatory practices at Google. He has a genuine concern that this can flame gender and race tensions in the workplace.
Was it unreasonable for him to argue that people should just be treated as individuals, not as members of their respective group? Ultimately, this is harmless talk on Mr Damore’s part, and should’ve been kept in-house. The world didn’t need to find out about it. So, do you still wanna work at Google?
Earlier in this piece I indicated that Mr Damore is just slightly misguided, or so I thought at first. Actually, I’m now having doubts about that. He’s got me rethinking about sex, gender, diversity and inclusion. Lemme get back to you about whether I think he’s slightly misguided or not. Don’t worry about what I come back with. What’s important is that he’s got me critically thinking. Isn’t diversity of opinion beautiful?
P.S. My thoughts are with Mr Damore, I hope he finds employment/business again with more tolerant folk.