Diversity is one of the pillars of Google life and employment.
I write you about the document making its way around our company, referred to by the media as an anti-diversity screed. The reaction has been outrage. I would like to think Google can do better.
First, as a company of science, airing opinions by colleagues is something we must deal with even when we may believe they are wrong.
The great scientist, Niels Bohr, said “the goal of science is nothing so grandiose as universal truth, but the modest but relentless goal is the gradual removal of prejudices.” If this document helps us eliminate prejudices and enhance diversity, achieving those goals comes down to how we react.
Diversity in our company is an axiom of our success and most of us believe we do a good job at fostering this policy. But we should also be careful to watch out for a kind of anti-diversity that is harder to detect.
My real worry at Google is anti-diversity of the elite vs. non elite. It is a problem in our company and in our society. We live in a bubble called Silicon Valley. We rarely stray outside of our walls and free lunches, bus rides, and our vaunted compensation, as well as the rise of the company’s good fortune, attributable to all who work here.
Elitism is the most heinous form of anti diversity, and more suffering has been created by noble elites than all other forms put together. Let’s be sure that while we seek diversity, opinions may surface which may be wrong but that we allow them to be expressed and then address them scientifically.
We operate a company that has a unique role in a very complex world. Let us not allow internal issues to overshadow this. Our search results produce life saving information every day in all parts of the world, but there are people who also use our results to produce deadly weapons for terror at the same time. We must earn the right to deal with this level of complexity in a responsible manner, and how we handle our diversity questions goes to the heart of whether society will trust us or not.
Therefore I ask you all to take into consideration of the following.
Let’s eliminate the magisterial “I” from our vocabulary for a while. We are a ‘we’ culture, and when we agree with what is happening we are an ‘our’ culture. When we disagree, we are a ‘they’ culture.
Diversity must be an ‘our’ concept or it won’t work no matter how many “I’s” and “we’s” believe in it. Therefore, immediately, we will be implementing….
Diversity training that is measured not on its ability to ‘paint by numbers’ but on its ability to bring diverse communities together. It is not a matter of how high your diversity numbers are but how high is your ability to form effective cooperation among diverse groups of us.
Paid time off for real diversity skills training. We suggest joining groups that work with inner city youth, refugees, and impoverished Americans in rural towns and villages. This will be a 4 week sabbatical for every employee, taken at least once every 3 years.
Donation of a portion of your option compensation matched by the company to socially diverse, non political activities.
Finally, I commit to visit every office and subsidiary of the company to discuss these issues and hear your views. In these sessions, what I am most interested in is your questions.
We have many answers, but without questions, they are of little value.