Google CEO Sundar Pichai has no remorse over the controversial termination of former employee James Damore, who ignited controversy last week after his memo detailing how biological differences affect men and women in tech went viral.
In a Google blog post that was posted on Tuesday, Pichai acknowledged that “this has been a very difficult time” and sought to address the Damore problem, which many have taken as an assault on free speech and independent thought.
“First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it,” he said. “However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” Pichai continued. “It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects ‘each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.’”
Damore, who gave a series of interviews this week explaining his side of the story, claimed that Google had been following “potentially illegal practices that they’d been doing in order to increase diversity… Basically treating people differently based on their race or gender.”
“Most meetings at Google are recorded, anyone at Google can watch it,” he told psychologist Jordan Peterson. However, Damore claims to have attended “diversity summits” that were kept under the table. “They don’t want any paper trail for any of these things… because I think it’s illegal,” he said.
Pichai did not question Damore’s right to free speech, but he did appear to have trouble reconciling his termination: “The author had a right to express their views on those topics – we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy not to take action for prompting these discussions,” he wrote, again pointing to the “Code of Conduct” as the proverbial line that Damore crossed.
Watch the full discussion between Damore and Peterson below: