Does the infamous Google memo reveal problems in the company's training?
- The Los Angeles Times reports that James Damore's infamous memo may have been partly to blame on the company's diversity training. Written while on a flight to China, Damore called the company an "ideological echo chamber” and argued that women do not get jobs at Google because of biological differences. He also said there was a lot of shaming directed at men, and believed it to be hypocrisy at work.
- Google founded its diversity training in 2013 to create awareness around the subtle biases that women face in the technology world. Instead, it appears that some employees were not getting the right messages from this training. One of the main reasons for it's alleged failure, according to the LA Times, is that it takes the approach of telling people what to do — something that experts say isn't effective. Instead, people prefer to be asked to problem-solve.
- Damore told the Associated Press that he filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board before he was fired.
While the final legal ramifications of the debacle are yet to be settled, it can be a lesson for employers in handling sensitive learning topics and the discussion around them. A poorly designed diversity education program can make some feel attacked, despite aiming to raise awareness and sensitivity around an issue.
The whole saga shows that perspective is everything. Training programs should give employees of all backgrounds an opportunity to discuss their ideas and feel heard. But for employers, this can be tricky — especially when they don't want to be seen as supporting hateful or disruptive ideas. To ensure success, guidelines should be set forth ahead of time so that all employees can discuss their ideas in a safe space. Employee resource groups have long served as an example of how such discussion can be facilitated.
Allowing employees to give feedback is a vitally important step in the process, as well, so that improvements can be made if needed.
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