Silicon Valley: Google’s diversity dilemma
Google’s white-male problem isn’t going away, said Ellen Huet and Mark Bergen in Bloomberg.com. The search giant is increasingly taking heat “from both sides” of the diversity debate: “those who say it’s not doing enough to include women and underrepresented racial minorities and those who assert that its efforts go too far.” A veteran Google recruiter recently filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that he was fired “because he didn’t toe the line on rejecting white and Asian male job candidates.” Arne Wilberg, who worked at Google for nine years, said he was explicitly instructed to consider applicants only from “underrepresented groups,” such as Hispanics, African-Americans, and women, and that he was fired when he complained. That suit comes after former Google engineer James Damore sued in January, claiming the company “discriminates against white men with conservative views,” said Daisuke Wakabayashi in The New York Times. But in a sign of the competing challenges Google faces, it is also being sued “for not going far enough” in its diversity efforts. A former female engineer has filed suit alleging she suffered endemic sexual harassment, and a former male engineer is suing the company claiming he was fired for being too outspoken in defense of female and minority employees.
“On the face of it, the idea that Google is discriminating against white men is laugh-out-loud funny,” said Joe Nocera in Bloomberg.com. The company’s 2016 diversity report revealed just 2 percent of staff were black, and 3 percent Hispanic, and that the leadership team was 76 percent male and 68 percent white. That said, the lawsuit from the former recruiter “is a real problem for Google.” As noble as the company’s efforts to increase diversity may have been, there are rules limiting how far it can go. It’s entirely possible Google’s clumsy exclusions “violated the law.” Possibly, but the “caterwauling” of white men suffering alleged grievances is “particularly grating” given the tech industry’s record, said Maya Kosoff in VanityFair.com. Silicon Valley is “only just beginning to deal with decades of discrimination and sexism,” and the “white male panic” taking root at Google suggests the backlash to that reckoning isn’t going to be pretty.
At the end of the day, Google employees should not be able to create “their own enclave of mandatory wokeness,” said Robert Tracinski in TheFederalist.com. These lawsuits have exposed a corporate culture that’s akin to “a police state,” where employees “commandeer company resources” to accommodate their private agendas and enforce political conformity. That would be troubling anywhere, never mind at the company that dominates how we access information online. How long before Google takes its “ideological policing” beyond its own walls and “imposes it on everyone who uses its services”? ■