After canceling a town hall meeting intended to address the fallout from an anti-diversity memo, Google (googl) CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized the importance of women in tech jobs while speaking at a coding event for girls at the company’s campus.
“I want you to know there’s a place for you in this industry,” Pichai told a crowd of young women on Thursday, according to the Verge. “There’s a place for you at Google. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You belong here and we need you.”
Pichai was speaking at the Technovation awards that honored teams of young women coders from all over the world. The months-long competition involved teams of girls developing apps to solve issues in their communities.
“At Google, we are very committed to building products for everyone in the world, and I think to do that well we really need to have people internally who represent the world in totality,” he said. “So it’s really important that more women and girls have the opportunity to participate in technology, to learn how to code, create, and innovate.”
His comments follow an explosive week at Google after an employee circulated a memo slamming the company’s diversity efforts and saying that women may not be as good at tech jobs as men due to biological differences. The software engineer, James Damore, was fired by Pichai on Monday. The document sparked a heated debate inside and outside of the company on sexism and diversity in Silicon Valley.
Google canceled the scheduled town hall Thursday after concerns that employees were being harassed after their questions were leaked online, according to Recode. Pichai told employees he still plans to address their concerns about the company.