Was Google right or wrong in firing James Damore for his controversial diversity memo? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Dandan Zhu, Entrepreneur, Top-billing Headhunter turned career coach:
Unequivocally, Google was right and within their rights to fire James Damore for his Manifesto.
Having read his manifesto, from a headhunter's and businessperson's perspective, here are a few reasons why Google had to get rid of Damore:
#1. To stay commercially viable. Damore criticizes the left-wing nature of modern business culture for needing to be politically correct. He recommends that companies embrace conservative views. That is going against the grain of what stakeholders, vendors, business partners, and more importantly, consumers, want.
Consumers include those who are female and minorities. To paint you a picture of the need to please these demographics: according to the US Census, almost half of people in the US born in 2010 are not white. Furthermore, half of the population more or less of every age group (elderly being more so) are WOMEN.
Add in the whites who like minorities and the males who support women, you can imagine how disastrous this type of PR fiasco can be, how much money will be lost if companies condone racism and the validity of male-superiority, which his manifesto tries to prove.
Consumers' buying power and their feelings, are at the core of how businesses can stay relevant (profitable) or not. If ignored, customer demographics will unite against the company that angers them (think Beehive at any insults directed towards Bey). Money talks. Businesses listen. They're not going to protect one guy and lose billions in the process.
#2. To recruit future hires and hold on to their existing staff. Right-wing ideals like limiting female reproductive rights, enforcing religious dogma disguised as "family" values, anti-minority, and anti-immigration policies, literally will ruin a tech company's hiring future and present!
Tech companies need foreign labor, in part, to survive. They heavily rely on H1B visas to recruit highly talented staff who know technical skills that most domestic Americans don't because the US government spends 8x on military than education, leading to a dire gap in STEM education across the board.
Highly-skilled employees, many of whom will be upset by Damore's views, are unlikely to stay with a company that allows such blatant disrespect for women and minorities. Therefore, a company has to protect retention and make an example out of Damore for stupidly making public his ignorant views. Had Damore kept his views to himself, he would still be employed (many people share his views), but he made the mistake of showing his hand publicly. Not a great move.
#3. To remain socially accepted and widely admired by the majority of American (and global) citizenry. The global trend and mentality of the 21st century embraces continued openness, global equality, eventual eradication of poverty, uplifting of the masses, reducing disease, environmental protection, and promoting a more harmonious and peaceful world. We expect companies to follow a similar moral code: one of respect for others' dignity.
Outside of war-mongering countries, most citizens globally don't want death, disease, famine, and hate to rule their lives. Outside of the deeply mentally-ill terrorist organizations and authoritarian leadership, most humans want happiness. That includes respecting each other. Embracing each others' differences.
Global reputation matters. Global companies, like Google, need to adhere and abide by a global policy, which leads to my last point:
#4. Google had a right to fire Damore, due to HR policies prohibiting a hostile work environment, to say the least! Damore's writing and sharing of his views shook their existing culture to their core. The revelation that someone within their midst, hiding in plain sight, was all along(!) harboring such disturbing views negatively distracts and disrupts a culture that previously was one of unity, equality, and growth.
The audacity that someone dares to make public their belief that one demographic is more deserving of and biologically inclined to achieve technical success than another, is so abrasive to the existing culture, that it legally creates a hostile environment, unacceptable by the majority of employees and leadership.
Should a company allow this type of behavior to continue, every colleague and employee can pursue and win a class-action lawsuit that proves Google tolerates discrimination and endorses male-superiority thinking. The damage brought on by such a lawsuit would not bring Google down, but would ruin enough goodwill internally and externally that the costs could be staggering in terms of customers lost and employees lost to other firms, causing employee replacement costs (recruiter fees) to skyrocket!
As cleverly and articulately that Damore tried to write and promote his way of thinking, citing fancy and meaningless graphs using pseudo-science, people see the core message at the heart of his manifesto: that women and minorities are inherently < males.
If a company tolerates this type of open disregard for colleagues, managers, and leadership, how can other employees enjoy that type of work environment? Where now it's acceptable to tolerate bigotry, discrimination, and superiority right in front of your face? Next to your own desk? Close to where you work? No company would set themselves up for that type of legal and emotional headache.
And hence, ladies and gentlemen, Damore was unquestionably fired to minimize the damage he has already created for his firm, himself, and others that his narrow-minded thinking has hurt.