“Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” was not a publicly acclaimed work. The 10-page screed written by a Google employee criticizes the company’s minority-focused initiatives. Google has made a concerted effort to draw women and underrepresented minorities into employment, creating an environment, so says the author, that quells any dissidents to Google’s “left” ideology.
The software engineer simplifies Google’s social purpose into two statements. “All disparities in representation are due to oppression” and “We should discriminate to correct for this oppression.” These claims, while a blatant criticism, are not unwarranted at all. Google has publicly defended efforts to focus on hiring minorities including women.
what can we say about our coworkers or industry?
The Google employee refutes a cardinal rule of PC culture: suggesting there may be inherent differences between people. The paper reasons that because (on average, he says) women don’t have the same desire to work in the STEM fields where Google makes its living.
The work lacks hard statistics, making it ripe for criticism. How he creates distinctions can be disputed, and that is all the ammo needed for Google to shut the work down. Google’s Vice President of Diversity, Integrity, & Governance released a statement following the public outcry of the employee’s work. It essentially condemned the notion that Google’s methods could be unethical and promised to uphold the company’s “principles of equal employment.” Which begs the question, will companies like Google not sleep until their staff employees – by a measure of race, gender, etc. – equal that of the general population? This is a real ethical problem disguised as a mission to do good. When the bar is lowered for a particular group to combat either interest, availability, or even ability for the sake of yield, those groups in focus are held to a lower standard. Indeed, Google must understand this phenomenon, but could they be using it as a strategy?
It is certainly possible that every member of Google’s top staff is entirely devoted to the company’s social justice cause. But it is equally likely that these professional marketers and innovators realize the current social climate holds the key to their image, and therefore, success. Google is a company, and like all others, profit is their goal. The public desire for diversity is as much a marketing tool to consumers, as it is to employees. Today, entire organizations have become PR machines with social missions tied to their products. Companies are expected to endorse certain beliefs and condemn others.
The business of social justice
The purpose of the report was not to bash left or right agendas at all. The concern? Compassion for the underrepresented has become favoritism, and institutions like Google will use extreme and authoritative measures to silent dissidents their internal majority deems “extreme and authoritative.” It appears the company has mixed up equality of opportunity and equality regarding representation. The two, the author suggests, may simply not be plausible, and it is inherently unequal to change the standards, higher or lower, for a group to pronounce equality. The author argues against Google employing a strategy of “arbitrary social engineering.”
One would think Google is concerned with ability and innovation, and hiring people most capable of delivering the amazing products and services they’re able to create. But the company is yet another example of putting public reputation above all else in a social climate that rewards them for doing so. If the company can both profit from their social reputation as well as their technological one, why do things differently than they do right now? Hence their “rogue” employee’s frustration.