×

Google CEO Cancels Gender-Diversity Meeting After Employees Are Targeted Online

Shockwaves continue to rattle Google after the company fired an engineer who posted a lengthy screed suggesting that women are genetically less capable than men of working in high-tech.

On Thursday afternoon, Google CEO Sundar Pichai informed staffers in a companywide email that a town-hall meeting to discuss diversity issues was canceled after individual employees were singled out online — and several had expressed fears for their personal safety.

“We had hoped to have a frank open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward,” Pichai wrote in the memo, sent shortly before the meeting’s scheduled 4 p.m. PT start time. But questions submitted by staffers beforehand “appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally,” he wrote, and some employees were “concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”

Google’s firing of the engineer, James Damore, has rallied conservative agitators who are angry about what they perceive as the internet giant’s suppression of free speech and persecution of the male employee.

On Wednesday, right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos posted the Twitter bios of eight Google employees — who apparently had criticized Damore’s memo — on his Facebook page, with the comment, “Looking at who works for Google, it all makes sense now…”

Pichai in his memo Thursday wrote, “In recognition of Googlers’ concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion. So in the coming days we will find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely.”

Damore has spoken out since his firing, airing his grievances against Google. In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, he accused Google execs of “trying to smear my image rather than just looking at the evidence” and said he felt “betrayed.”

Google on Monday released a memo from Pichai to employees, in which the chief executive said that while the company values critical discussion of its diversity programs, parts of Damore’s essay crossed the line “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” Pichai wrote.

Damore’s 3,300-word manifesto, which was leaked to the media, accused the company of having a left-wing political bias that has resulted in anti-male discrimination under the guise of diversity. In the memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” he suggested that women have inherent biological traits — like “neuroticism” — that make it harder for them to succeed in engineering jobs.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs

    Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs Talk European Expansion

    If there’s a perfect example of Amazon Studios’ strategy with its local-language international TV content, Japan’s “Documental” would be it. The series revolves around 10 comedians who battle to make one another laugh in an elimination-style competition. James Farrell, Amazon Studios’ head of international originals, said it was a good example of an unconventional idea [...]

  • Discovery, ProSiebenSat.1 Streamer Joyn Will Launch

    Discovery and ProSiebenSat.1's Joint Streamer, Joyn, Will Get International Launch

    Joyn, the streaming service run jointly by Discovery and German media giant ProSiebenSat.1, will roll out internationally in addition to launching a premium tier domestically later this year. At Mipcom in Cannes, ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Max Conze was asked whether the service, which offers on-demand content and linear channel feeds, would launch beyond Germany. “We definitely [...]

  • The Outpost -- "One is the

    Electric Entertainment Launching OTT Channel Electric Now (EXCLUSIVE)

    U.S.-based producer and distributor Electric Entertainment is launching Electric Now, a linear OTT channel that will feature its top series and library content. The channel will have episodes of “The Outpost,” the fantasy-adventure series that has just had its third season greenlit by U.S. network The CW. The new season will head into production in [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Watch Signs Content Pact With France's M6, Unveils European Short-Form Slate

    Facebook Watch has inked a content pact with French channel M6 and unveiled a slate of short-form content from European digital publishers for the platform. The deal with M6 will see the French broadcaster place spinoff programming from some of its hit shows on Facebook Watch. M6 will run pre- and after-show clips, interviews, and [...]

  • Snow White

    What's Coming to Disney Plus Starting in November

    Disney unveiled the complete list of films to premiere on its streaming service Disney Plus via a lengthy Twitter thread Monday. With its powerhouse catalog including Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic properties, the full magnitude of the Disney empire will be seen once the streaming service launches. Along with Disney originals previously announced [...]

  • Stock market

    Trading In Music's Futures: How to Cash In on the Industry's Gold Rush (Guest Column)

    The music industry is entering a time of financial prosperity thanks to the widespread use of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. According to a recent report by Musicwatch, 77% of all internet users in the U.S. stream music, while Goldman Sachs projects a revenue pot of $34 billion by 2030. Finally, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content