DIVERSITY IS NEITHER GOOD NOR BAD, IT JUST IS. HOW ONE EXPLOITS IT OR IGNORES IT IS ANOTHER MATTER

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Rod Dreher

Damore’s Diversity Suggestion List

THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE

From James Damore’s notorious Google diversity memo:

Suggestions

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

My concrete suggestions are to:

De-moralize diversity.

  • As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”
    Stop alienating conservatives.
  • Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.
  • In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
  • Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.

Confront Google’s biases.

  • I’ve mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.
  • I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.

Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

  • These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.

Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

  • Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.
  • There’s currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.
  • These programs are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.
  • I realize that some of our programs may be precautions against government accusations of discrimination, but that can easily backfire since they incentivize illegal discrimination.

Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.

  • We should focus on psychological safety, which has shown positive effects and should (hopefully) not lead to unfair discrimination.
  • We need psychological safety and shared values to gain the benefits of diversity
  • Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.

De-emphasize empathy.

  • I’ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy—feeling another’s pain—causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.

Prioritize intention.

  • Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.
  • Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.

Be open about the science of human nature.

  • Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.

Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

  • We haven’t been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.

  • Some of the suggested methods of the current training (v2.3) are likely useful, but the political bias of the presentation is clear from the factual inaccuracies and the examples shown.

  • Spend more time on the many other types of biases besides stereotypes. Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I’m not advocating for using stereotypes, I just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what’s said in the training).

If you click here, you’ll go to the original text of the Suggestions part of the memo. It contains hyperlinks inserted by Damore.

I think these are excellent suggestions that are worth debating. Too bad Google is not the kind of company where one can talk about these things without risking one’s livelihood. Why would anyone who had not already drunk the SJW Kool-Aid want to work there. “Microaggression Training”? That’s a thing? What a neurotic workplace that must be.

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27 Responses to Damore’s Diversity Suggestion List

  1. collin says:

    De-emphasize empathy.

    Working for a multi-national corporation, believe me there isn’t a company that has any kind of empathy for their employees below the senior leadership team.

    Actually, the best thing Google could do for their workforce is to drop this diversity stuff and figure out how to de-regulate the local housing market.

  2. Jack B. Nimble says:

    There has been lots of online push-back against Damore’s memo. I found this criticism to be the most well-grounded:

    https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788

    Something that I wished I had emphasized in my comment on an earlier post is that this is really an issue of worker’s rights versus management. Jeet Heer at TNR has been all over this question today:

    https://twitter.com/HeerJeet/status/894756024703361024

    Absent quasi-contractual arrangements like academic tenure, workers who want to protect their rights as employees against encroachment from management have few options except to form a trade union. That is not likely to happen in libertarian-leaning silicon valley, and U.S. employers have been on an anti-union campaign since, essentially, forever.

  3. Ben H says:

    What’s really funny is all the people licking google’s boots for firing this guy because of the way he, supposedly, ‘treats people.’

    They aren’t concerned about the mouth breathers baying for their coworkers’ blood based on an inaccurate rumor about something he said. Oh no that’s how you wanted to be treated at work.

  4. EngineerScotty says:

    If the memo had just said what is re-published, nobody would object to it.

    It’s the parts you left out that people object to.

    Likewise, if Charles Murray had left Chapter 22 out of The Bell Curve, it would have been regarded as a minor work statistics for the layman. But when you delve into arguments of “these people are stupid or unsuitable”–even if you think such claims are true and provable–people get pissed off. Especially if there are obvious mitigating social factors at play, such as a century of Jim Crow and other forms of official mistreatment of African-Americans, or a toxic “bro” culture in Silicon Valley that tends to view women as little more than f*ck-things, and just as nasty as any frathouse or locker room.

    And really–Google (for all its warts) was between a rock and a hard place here; this came out of left field. Whether they fired him, subjected him to discipline other than firing (i.e. a demotion), tut-tutted but otherwise did nothing, issued a terse no comment, or promoted him to director of HR, someone would today be pissed off at Google and calling for their corporate heads.

    [NFR: I wrote about the entire memo in another post. This post is about Damore’s diversity suggestions only. — RD]

  5. ans he’s screwed. That’s free-market capitalism at work. Literally.

  6. Giuseppe Scalas says:

    It looks like the memo went viral in Google and it received plenty of approving comments.
    I suspect that the socially enginereed bubble where Google and other Silicon Valley companies force their employees to live in is proving suffocating to many.
    In other words, there’s a crack in the SJW iron courtain.
    I think this explains the company’s management hysterical reaction: they have seen their little insect lab experiment blowing up in their faces,
    Of course they can go full Pol-Pot and “massacre” (i.e., fire) all the dissidents, but I wonder if there will be much of a company left, afterwards.
    You can try to shut off reality, but reality will always come back with a vengeance.

  7. Old West says:

    Someone I know well applied for a highly paid job a Google (well, at over $150k it would be highly paid for anywhere but Silicon Valley). He noted that the 4 people he interviewed with each had a different idea of what this newly created position was going to do — and there wasn’t a clear “chain of command.” He inquired about this, since he felt it was a setup for failure — no way to fully please all 4 people he would be working with.

    In response, he basically got a version of the “you’re lucky you’re one of the ones we chose to interview” and “most people would kill to work for Google” routine. I told him it sounded like a dangerous place to work — he took a different job that paid less, but because it was in a much lower cost of living place, he actually ended up making more, in reality.

    My opinion of these big tech companies is that they are every bit as rapacious and greedy and exploitative as any 19th century robber baron — only without the sense of personal responsibility.

    Their virtue signaling is a way of making the lefties leave them alone while they go on exploiting people. And it works.

  8.  

  9. BaronHarkonnen says:

    If they’re going to start leaking content from this internal message board or whatever it is to the twitter mob, I’d like to see what else goes on in there. I mean, what is the general tone, what topics are discussed, etc. This was probably singled out by someone who got upset but there’s probably all kinds of highly political stuff that would be very offensive to conservatives. Openly referring to people as rednecks, flyover states etc etc etc, all out in the open for all employees to see.

    Perhaps an ally of Mr Damore could leak some of that, to give the mob some context. Say, via wikileaks, who offered him a job today?

  10. Can you clarify if you are challenging the substance of its ethical basis, or if you disagree it has one?

    I question whether there is anything inherently or essentially “ethical” about the concept of “diversity.”

    The comparison with Murray is apt, he recites statistics that aren’t disputed and then draws conclusions that are completely determined by his prior ideology. Group X and group Y are both underachieving, but he decides Group X (blacks in The Bell Curve) are naturally unfit and unworthy of any help, while Group Y (whites in Coming Apart) are in a crisis that requires dramatic remediation.

    That is a gross simplification of Murray’s writing. As I’ve said before, I never thought Murray worth reading until an editor said I needed to cover his work for an entry in a reference volume. I covered his conclusions critically, but he was not mindlessly racist. A lot of his reasoning was tautological, but he was quite clear that there are black geniuses and white morons, and a lot of both in between. If I ever heard him speak, my question to him would be, so what? What different policies can be formulated based on the tenuous possibility that the aggregate statistical curves are not quite identical?

    I also question the value of IQ testing, and standardized testing in general.

    I take gender essentialism as false, the other guy takes it as true, it’s a completely inappropriate debate for the workplace

    It COULD be an entirely appropriate debate for the workplace, IF either view is relied upon in formulating substantive workplace policy. As to whether a categorical like “gender essentialism” is deemed true or false, often we get closest to the truth if we consider that human beings are complex, as are ecosystems, and categorical answers may all be inherently unreliable.

    E.g., there are REAL differences between men and women, but men, and women, exist on complex spectrums of interest, apptitude, work ethic, acquired skill, all of which can be influenced substantially by family resources, education, social attitudes of others, and we should be careful to look at the big picture, all the fractals within that picture, and not be too smugly certain that we really understand it all.

    Damore was fired for writing the things that EngineerScotty referred to, and which were left out of this post.

    Could you be a bit more specific about what, how, and why?

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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