Google CEO Has No Regrets About Firing Author of Anti-Diversity Memo
Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Friday expressed no regret over the firing of James Damore, author of an infamous memo criticizing Google’s pro-diversity policies and culture.
During an appearance with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at a town hall cohosted by MSNBC and Recode, Pichai said, “I don’t regret it,” when asked about Damore’s firing by Recode head Kara Swisher. He insisted that the firing was primarily a strategic decision for Google. “The last thing we do when we make decisions like this is look at it with a political lens,” Pichai said, according to TechCrunch.
Google has been working to increase its hiring of women. Damore’s memo, which became public in August, argued in part that women might not be biologically suited for careers in engineering or technology. Many commentators felt that retaining Damore after the memo’s distribution would make Google a hostile work environment for women.
Wojcicki also described the firing as “the right decision.”
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Though Google’s priority was internal cohesion, Damore’s memo was broadly criticized by many in the tech sector and beyond, including for faulty interpretations of biological science. Damore quickly revised inaccurate representations that he had completed a Harvard PhD in biology.
At the same time, reports did indicate that Damore’s views were quietly widespread in the lower ranks of Google.
Damore earlier this month initiated a lawsuit against Google, alleging that the company discriminates against white men. That case seems difficult to make on its face, since its most recent diversity report found that the company is 69% male and 91% white or Asian, with black or Hispanic people making up only 3% and 4% of new hires, respectively.
The full interview with Pichai and Wojcicki is scheduled to air on MSNBC on January 26th.
Update 1/21/18: This story has been updated with details about the setting of the interview.