Aug. 8th, 2017

drwex: (WWFD)
I was startled to read (on one of my tech mail lists) that a person felt firing the Google employee who circulated the position piece on the inferiority of women (henceforth G) was "petty." It was not petty, nor done without thought.

I've never worked at Google, nor do I have any insight into their internal processes. But I've worked at a lot of tech companies and talked to many people at many others; I believe my experience generalizes. I have also worked at companies that have made the transition from private to public, which is significant. And finally, I have a background in cognitive science and experience working in Compliance. Both are relevant here.
First, let's deal with the science )
Now let's talk about tech companies for a minute )
Being a public company matters )
and this all explains why this guy got fired and why he didn't get fired faster )
You know who else should be fired? )

[1] Note this is not why Summers was fired; see Cathy O'Neill's explainer from a few years back about what actually got him fired. But that's a digression. Summers was wrong, and G is wrong.
[2] There's a whole lot to say about what's wrong with tech companies in these areas but that's sort of aside. Take as given please that I think places like Uber are a cancer and should be cleansed with fire if nothing other than serving as a warning to everyone else.
[3] My actual background is in financial compliance - NASD, SEC and so on - but the principles are the same across industries. Financial compliance is just more complicated and more expensive.
[4] It's possible that the PR firm did advise them on this and Google didn't take that advice - I have no inside insight.
[5] Google's stock price doesn't per se exist since it's part of Alphabet, Inc and listed on the NASDAQ that way. In the last five days the price has been pretty stable so maybe this is a tempest in the tech teapot and the rest of the world doesn't give a hoot. If the stock was nosediving you'd be hearing a very different tune from Pichai.


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