Een medewerker van Google is ontslagen dankzij een memo die hij schreef. In zijn manifest schrijft hij dat er weinig vrouwen in de techindustrie werken vanwege biologische verschillen tussen man en vrouw.

Google bevestigt het ontslag, maar wil geen uitspraken doen over individuele gevallen.

Het nieuws komt op een ongelukkig moment. Na het uitlekken ontstond er als snel een verhitte discussie over de positie van vrouwen in de techwereld. Ze zouden regelmatig te maken hebben met seksuele intimidatie en minder salaris krijgen dan hun mannelijke collega’s.

Deze problemen zouden ook bij Google voorkomen. Reden voor het Amerikaanse ministerie van Justitie om mogelijk een onderzoek te starten naar loondiscriminatie bij de zoekgigant.

CEO van Google Sundar Pichai reageerde op de memo met zijn eigen interne memo. Hierin gaat hij vooral in op het argument van de werknemer dat biologische verschillen vrouwen minder geschikt maken voor tech. Pichai stelt dat deze uitspraak “niet oké” is en dat het “schadelijke stereotypen binnen het bedrijf versterkt”.

“Suggereren dat een groep collega’s eigenschappen heeft die hen biologisch gezien minder geschikt maken voor het werk is aanstootgevend en niet oké”, aldus Pichai.

Het manifest van tien pagina’s werd zaterdag publiek goed na een artikel op Vice’s Motherboard. Een volledige kopie van de memo was niet veel later te vinden op Gizmodo.

Lees ook op Business Insider

De werknemer, softwareontwikkelaar James Damore, liet aan persbureau Reuters weten dat hij is ontslagen vanwege het ‘in stand houden van genderstereotypen’. Hij bekijkt welke stappen hij kan nemen.

De hele memo van Sundar Pichai is hier te lezen:

Subject: Our words matter

This has been a very difficult few days. I wanted to provide an update on the memo that was circulated over this past week.

First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.”

The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being “agreeable” rather than “assertive,” showing a “lower stress tolerance,” or being “neurotic.”

At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent. So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo – such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all – are important topics. The author had a right to express their views on those topics – we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.

The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree – while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct. I’d encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same.

I have been on work related travel in Africa and Europe the past couple of weeks and had just started my family vacation here this week. I have decided to return tomorrow as clearly there’s a lot more to discuss as a group – including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.

So please join me, along with members of the leadership team at a town hall on Thursday. Check your calendar soon for details.

– Sundar