5 lessons from Google’s diversity dust-up

Google fired a software engineer for a memo that questioned the organization’s diversity policies. While outsiders debate the move, here are some takeaways for communicators.

At what point does disputing policy internally become a firing offense? Is an offense given to co-workers or an external social media firestorm sufficient grounds for cutting ties with an employee?

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

James Damore, the Google software engineer who wrote the note, told Bloomberg he is “exploring all possible legal remedies.”

Yet the episode surely is causing night sweats among many communicators. Any employee now has the potential to lob a crisis grenade with an email.

In the memo, Damore questioned Google’s diversity efforts and suggested that biological differences account for the lower level of women’s representation in the industry. In a later statement added to the memo, he insisted he values diversity and inclusion and isn’t denying that sexism exists.

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