Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai made an appearance at a coding event for young women held in the company’s Mountain View, California campus on Thursday, stating that “there’s a place” for them in the tech industry and Google in particular, adding that they shouldn’t “let anyone” tell them otherwise. Mr. Pichai’s comments came shortly after a memo criticizing Google‘s diversity practices that was authored by one of the firm’s software engineers went viral within the tech giant before making its way to the Internet, sparking outrage in the Silicon Valley. The controversy prompted Google’s top executive to cancel his summer vacation and return to the firm’s headquarters to criticize the contents of the document penned by one James Damore who was laid off on Monday.
During his Thursday appearance, Mr. Pichai said that as Google continues to build products for an international audience, it must strive for its workforce to be an accurate representation of that audience, having people of all genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions. A similar sentiment was recently expressed by Google’s recently appointed Vice President of Diversity Danielle Brown who said that Alphabet’s subsidiary seeks to nurture an open working environment where employees don’t feel threatened or afraid of sharing their beliefs so long as such views are in line with the company’s Code of Conduct. That provision was used as the basis for firing Mr. Damore who later revealed he’s considering suing his former employer, though it’s currently unclear how likely is he to go through with that decision.
Mr. Pichai’s latest comments on the matter indicate that Google is adamant to maintain its firm position on the subject, which some supporters of the polarizing memo and Mr. Damore himself claim is too left-oriented, a notion that the company promptly dismissed. The ordeal is unlikely to help Google’s chances at winning its ongoing legal battle with the United States Department of Labor which recently accused the company of systematically underpaying women. Being a federal contractor, Google is subject to periodical government reviews of its business practices, though it’s currently unclear whether the latest controversy has a realistic chance of affecting its status with the administration.