I haven’t read the Google employee’s anti-diversity memo (or manifesto, as it’s being described). And I probably won’t. Is this because I don’t care to be informed? No. Is it because I don’t want to participate in the dialogue? Colder. It is because it’s not at all surprising? Warmer. Is it because reading it is precisely what the author wanted to happen? Bingo.
You see, the only reason a memo of this sort can ever be written, anonymously circulated at Google, and then widely publicized is because of one key aspect of the entire “diversity in tech” conversation: it is always being led by women and minorities. As a result, we are perpetually reminded exactly how much white males in positions of leadership in tech continue to dismiss their responsibility not only in speaking out against people like the author of this manifesto but also how much white males dismiss their role in creating this environment.
Sure, there will be a half dozen Medium articles, LinkedIn posts and guest articles in TechCrunch from the usual suspects on why this doesn’t represent Silicon Valley or Google or a particular engineering leader or VC’s ideology, but rest assured, they’ll go back to doing business with the same folks and investing in the same folks (mostly white and Asian males), while leaving the diversity and inclusion work to women and other minorities with “diversity and inclusion” in their job titles so the engineering managers, Stanford MBAs and executives can continue the real work of the business.
If this sounds harsh it’s because I’ve seen how this plays out time and time again over the last several years from Ellen Pao’s lawsuit and Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” Movement to the Susan Fowler story and the downfall of Binary Capital. Through it all, the status quo remains not for lack of think pieces by Silicon Valley heavyweights or action by women and minorities. So, no, I don’t plan on reading the Google employee’s anti-diversity memo because I don’t need another sexist or racist person in Silicon Valley hiding in the public confines of a publicly-traded company’s middle ranks manifesting their thoughts into my psyche.
The fact is, the sentiment expressed in this memo has already invaded and influenced the psyche and highest ranks of the “powers that be” in tech ― largely white and Asian males ― which explains why the anonymity of the author remains and why Google (and, to a larger extent, all of tech) has long fostered an environment where such memos can be shared without meaningful ramifications. Even if one man loses his job, the threat of sexism, racism and bias will remain unharmed because the real threat ― people in a position of privilege and influence within the industry returning to the status quo ― remains alive and thriving.
P.S. To my white male friends in tech: Please stop sending articles about diversity in tech to the few women and minorities you know in tech. As the very people trying to fix the problem, routinely being denied/rejected/dismissed and making sacrifices you can’t possibly relate to, we are well aware of the problem. We are being the solution.
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