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The Dirty War Over Diversity Inside Google

Linked by Paul Ciano on February 16, 2018

Nitasha Tiku, Wired:

In interviews with WIRED, 15 current Google employees accuse coworkers of inciting outsiders to harass rank-and-file employees who are minority advocates, including queer and transgender employees.

Targeted employees say they have complained to Google executives about the harassment. They say Google’s security team is vigilant about physical threats and that Danielle Brown, Google’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, who has also been targeted by harassers, has been supportive and reassuring. But, they say they have not been told the outcome of complaints they filed against coworkers they believe are harassing them, and that top executives have not responded assertively to concerns about harassment and doxing. As a result, some employees now check hate sites for attempts at doxing Google employees, which they then report to Google security.

The complaints underscore how Google’s freewheeling workplace culture, where employees are encouraged to “bring your whole self to work” and exchange views on internal discussion boards, has turned as polarized and toxic as the national political debate.

Diversity advocates say that by trying to stay neutral, Google is being exploited by instigators, who have disguised a targeted harassment campaign as conservative political thought.

One flashpoint is Google’s training for employees about sexual, racial, and ethnic diversity. In his memo, Damore said the programs “are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.” But one black woman employee offers an opposing complaint. She says the programs lack context about discrimination and inequality and focus on interpersonal relationships, instructing employees to watch what they say because it might hurt someone’s feelings. “It robs Google of the chance to discuss these issues,” and leaves criticisms unanswered, she says. She says co-workers and her manager have described diversity as “just another box to check and a waste of time.

Fong-Jones is used to being harassed online. But she was quickly flooded with direct messages on Twitter containing violent threats and degrading and transphobic slurs based on gender identity, race, and sexual orientation. One commenter on Vox Popoli wrote that, “they should pitch all those sexual freaks off of rooftops.”

That’s when it clicked: perhaps some of her coworkers’ questions had not been in good faith. “We didn’t realize that there was a dirty war going on, and weren’t aware of the tactics being used against us,” she says. The stakes soon became clear.

Paul Ciano

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