The Google employee fired for criticizing the company's diversity policy took aim at his former employer on Friday for silencing "open and honest discussion."
James Damore, a Google engineer since 2013, wrote an internal document that went viral last weekend, accusing the company of quashing conservative political opinions and claiming biological differences explain a lack of women in tech and leadership positions.
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai fired Damore on Monday for violating the company's code of conduct and "advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace."
"It saddens me to leave Google and to see the company silence open and honest discussion," Damore wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. "If Google continues to ignore the very real issues raised by its diversity policies and corporate culture, it will be walking blind into the future — unable to meet the needs of its remarkable employees and sure to disappoint its billions of users."
Damore explained that he suggested in his memo that bias against women is also a factor in the male-female disparity in tech, but his superiors ignored his "reasoned" argument because of pressure within the larger tech community.
"My 10-page document set out what I considered a reasoned, well-researched, good-faith argument, but as I wrote, the viewpoint I was putting forward is generally suppressed at Google because of the company's 'ideological echo chamber.' My firing neatly confirms that point," Damore said. "How did Google, the company that hires the smartest people in the world, become so ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate and reasoned argument?"
Damore explained that Google has created the conditions of an "echo chamber" among its employees.
"Google is a particularly intense echo chamber because it is in the middle of Silicon Valley and is so life-encompassing as a place to work," Damore said. "With free food, internal meme boards and weekly companywide meetings, Google becomes a huge part of its employees' lives. Some even live on campus. For many, including myself, working at Google is a major part of their identity, almost like a cult with its own leaders and saints, all believed to righteously uphold the sacred motto of 'Don't be evil.' Echo chambers maintain themselves by creating a shared spirit and keeping discussion confined within certain limits."