Google cancels all-staff diversity meeting
Google has cancelled an all-staff meeting to discuss a controversial memo about diversity written by former engineer James Damore.
It is reported that some staff members were concerned about being singled out online if they were identified while they spoke out during the meeting.
The firm said it would “find a better way” to help employees discuss the issues raised by the memo.
Mr Damore was fired for breaking Google’s code of conduct.
He had suggested in his internal note that there were fewer women in tech and leadership positions because of biological differences.
According to Google’s most recent diversity figures, 80% of its tech workforce and 75% of its leaders are men.
“We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” Mr Damore wrote in his note, which was widely criticised.
Mr Damore said he had been sent messages of support from some staff at the tech giant and he also received a job offer from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who tweeted “censorship is for losers”.
Google’s new vice-president Danielle Brown said that Mr Damore’s view “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender”.
“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul,” she wrote in a statement published by Motherboard.
Analysis: Zoe Kleinman, technology reporter
The ongoing lack of diversity in the entire tech sector is an issue that has grown an even bigger head of steam in recent months, with a steady stream of stories about big firms and big names being held to account.
Women who work in the industry are increasingly choosing to speak out about their experiences in this male-dominated domain, and to challenge the statistics which demonstrate that they remain a minority, despite high-profile campaigns and initiatives aimed at redressing the balance.
James Damore’s suggestion that it is because they are biologically less suited to it has caused considerable anger, particularly among those who have forged successful Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers.
Google has been very clear that Mr Damore did not speak on its behalf but it has also faced criticism for firing him, with critics suggesting that the action went against the firm’s principle of free speech.