Google CEO Sundar Pichai cancelled a company-wide meeting on gender issues Thursday shortly before it was scheduled to begin.
The last minute cancellation came after employees said they had been harassed online after their questions meant for the town hall were leaked outside the company, Recode reports.
“We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward. But our Dory questions appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally,” Pichai said in an email to employees, according to Recode. Dory is a system that allows Google employees to ask and vote on questions. “Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”
The highly anticipated event was set to address the infamous anti-diversity memo written by former employee James Damore, who Pichai fired on Monday. In the memo, Damore wrote that women may not be as good at tech jobs as men due to biological differences, and cited traits such as “higher agreeableness” and “neuroticism” to back up his argument. He also critiqued Google’s training methods, programs focused on certain minority groups and what he saw as a liberal bias at the company.
The memo sparked an intense controversy in Silicon Valley, which has been struggling to deal with diversity issues and a number of sexual harassment scandals at other companies over the past several months.
Pichai had been expected to address Google’s 60,000 employees on Thursday, according to Recode. But when employees’ questions for Pichai were leaked, some employees told Recode they had been doxxed — the malicious practice that involves searching for and publishing private information online.
Despite the cancellation of the town hall on Thursday, Pichai told employees he still plans to hear their concerns about the company. His email said the company will “step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion.”