Ex-Google engineer, James Damore’s, Gender Memo did not surprise me — attitudes like his are not uncommon in those who have not grown up or interacted with those of diverse backgrounds. I don’t agree with his points, but I also don’t agree with his firing. Rather than blast Damore’s memo, this is a great opportunity for Google’s HR and Board to open the door for meaningful dialogue and to develop measurable strategies to promote women and minorities.
No matter our age, race or gender, we are all unconsciously biased. This causes us to send out unintended messages regarding race, diversity and gender. I disagreed with Damore being fired because doing so seems like an invisible message to cover up and pretend like gender differences and conservative viewpoints are not thriving and even picking up steam in many corporate environments. At a minimum, Damore should have been placed on an improvement plan that included Unconscious Bias training for at least 10-12 weeks.
What’s done is done, but there should be time spent now looking at how a similar situation in the future could be handled better. Even more important, steps should be taken to deal with the issues at hand before something like this happens again. People with good character must rise to the top and say what should not be tolerated. In addition, all of Damore’s past reviews of diverse employees should be reviewed and discussed with the people involved. The HR plan should include all minorities and women in Google to be formally connected with mentors to develop the leadership skills to speak up when they feel they are not being promoted and/or treated fairly.
Unfortunately, at Google, like most other corporations, mentors are not typically diverse, reflecting the organization’s lack of diversity. Google’s workforce, for example, consists of 70% men, as is 75% of its leadership, according to 2017 company statistics.
In order to change the energy at Google, the Board of Directors must also reflect diversity. When a problem comes up, a company’s leaders have the opportunity to turn it into victory. Attitudes like Darmore’s usually start at the top, and the only way to change the energy at Google is to bring qualified minorities and women to the board and executive table.
The views expressed in Damore’s memo play a major role in workplace conflicts that come up between employees who work right next to each other everyday. Many corporations are striving to achieve tremendous growth, and they need employees to fill jobs that are not all in the C-suite. They need employees to be empowered to grow and move up in the organization. Empowering these new employees means that they need to be guided on how to navigate the mental and emotional potholes that are revealed when it comes to diversity and race.
It’s important for all HR teams, boards and company leaders to ask themselves: how will we learn from this? Because we must.
“I am no longer willing to accept the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I no longer accept.”
Intuitive Strategist Sheree Franklin helps people to find the courage to release their life challenges in order to achieve their goals. She is a career columnist with Black Enterprise and the author of Intuition: The Hidden Asset Everyone Should Learn to Use. To learn more about Franklin’s book go to www.amzn.to/1UxlWLG.
Sheree is also a practitioner at Holistic Health Practice at One East Superior, in Chicago. Her practice includes one-to-one coaching as well as corporate speaking events, workshops and facilitation. For more information go to www.shereefranklin.com.