Google canceled a major diversity meeting that was scheduled for Thursday after numerous employees said that they are concerned for their safety. The meeting was supposed to address the issue of a controversial memo criticizing the company’s diversity practices and provide Googlers with the opportunity to ask questions about the reasons behind Google’s decision to fire its author James Damore. Despite the fact that the memo was largely condemned by the firm’s management and the majority of its employees, it also garnered some internal support and created a large controversy outside of Google and the Silicon Valley, with some right-wing commentators and organizations expressing public support for Mr. Damore and his sentiments which opponents labeled as misleading, false, and discriminatory.
The Thursday meeting was originally scheduled by Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai who publicly criticized the contents of Mr. Damore’s memo and prematurely returned from his vacation after the controversy became the subject of media scrutiny. While notifying Googlers about the cancellation of the planned meeting, Mr. Pichai said that the company is currently in the process of creating “a better set of conditions” that will allow its employees to discuss the issue at hand without fearing they’ll be publicly “outed” for asking questions and expressing their personal views regardless of their political orientation. Certain right-wing commentators recently publicized the names of some of Google’s employees who harshly criticized Mr. Damore’s memo and proposed topics for the now-scrapped Thursday meeting, which some cited as reasons for their safety concerns.
The controversy polarized not just Google’s employees and the Silicon Valley but also a portion of the American public; while the company’s supporters claim that Alphabet’s subsidiary was right to fire Mr. Damore for violating its Code of Conduct and implying that biological differences between men and women could explain the discrepancy in their representation in the tech industry, the opposite side of the political spectrum argues that Google is systematically sanctioning conservative viewpoints among its workforce. It’s currently unclear when the tech giant will hold its company-wide meeting on the issue and whether it’s currently exploring the possibility of allowing its employees to discuss the topic at hand in an anonymous manner.