You have probably read about the “Google Memo” by now. In August, James Damore, a search engineer at Google wrote an internal memo that challenged the company’s diversity initiatives. Damore argued that Google’s politically inspired diversity initiatives had created an echo chamber that prevented critical debate. Damore’s memo further argued that the lack of diversity in the technology industry was the result of biological differences between the sexes, rather than deliberate discrimination.
Since publishing the memo, Damore has been fired, been the toast of a handful of questionable media outlets, and created his own (firedfortruth) website that is headlined by a guillotine execution scene. The “Google Memo” will likely spur lawsuits and endless television pundit talking points for the months to come.
I won’t debate the legitimacy of Damore’s argument, which has been widely debunked by dozens of articles in:
James is Wrong and it Doesn’t Matter if He were Right
Personally, I like to watch the actions of leadership when a company is in the midst of a crisis. Executives are the ultimate ambassadors of an organization and how they react in crisis dictates how the rest of the company will behave. Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, cut his vacation short to return to Google’s HQ and address Damore’s memo head-on, which conveyed how important the situation was. In a memo sent to Google employees, Pichai noted that Damore’s memo violated "our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace."
Concurrently, Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have been silent on Damore’s memo. To help give him a voice, The Economist published an article titled “The e-mail Larry Page Should Have Written to James Damore”, which is an exhaustive rebuttal that totals over 2,100 words and includes a bell curve graph. The Economists’ letter, though well intended, is about 2,090 words too long.
Let me cut it down to ten:
Diversity is what we believe in.
Simon Sinek’s amazing book, Start With Why, is one of the ten commandments of gap intelligence’s business library. The book’s philosophy stresses that companies who focus on why they exist, will realize greater long term value and success than those who don’t. Steve Jobs famously told the world that Apple’s why was to build an insanely great company whose products would put a dent in the universe. Herb Keller’s why was to build Southwest Airlines out of Love, which is why each plane still has a heart painted on it.
When Larry and Sergey started Google, their why was “Don’t be evil.” As written in Google’s original prospectus:
“Don't be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains."
A company’s why is the epicenter of its culture and decision making processes and Google’s “Don’t be evil” is ingeniously applicable to everything it does. While others were charging for online email, Gmail was free. Google Docs, Drive, Photos, Talk, Hangouts, Maps, everything, free, free, free to the masses. “Don’t be evil” also drove many of the company’s management decisions including its infamous practice of giving employees 20% time to focus on independent projects. “Don’t Be Evil” can be linked to Google’s efforts to drive diversity throughout the organization.
Though Google formally changed “Don’t’ be evil” to “Do the right thing” in 2015 as the company evolved into its Alphabet Inc conglomerate, the new motto is still precluded by the original “Don’t be evil”.
A company’s why is non-negotiable. Ever. Even if James Damore’s research and analysis was 100% factually correct (it isn’t), it would not matter because it conflicts with the Google’s core belief, it’s why. A company’s why is unwavering and just simply cannot ever, ever be compromised, because by doing so puts everything else about the company into question.
A fellow gapper could easily write a compelling white paper, supported with thorough statistical analysis (we are a research company), that argued that donating so much of the company’s time to charitable giving inhibits our long term growth. The report could further argue that gap intelligence should end its practice of being a values-led company (our why) for the benefit of every stakeholder here.
My response in eleven words:
Charitable giving is what we believe in.
gap intelligence is a Values-Led Company and That Will Never, Ever Change
So, Mr. Damore, it doesn’t matter if you’re right (and you’re not). It’s not about what you believe; it’s about what Google believes. If you don’t believe what Google believes, the exit door is to your right. If your intent was really to start a dialog about diversity, you should have had it with your manager or the Human Resources department and not smear it all over the company’s logo.
gap intelligence doesn’t have a deliberate diversity hiring policy. We simply hire based on values, brain cells, and the quality of the person’s character.
As a result, look at our software development team: