Sundar Pichai cancels Google diversity meeting following threats to staff

11 Aug 2017

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking in 2015. Image: Nguyen Hung Vu/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A diversity meeting at Google has been cancelled after staff reported threats from online ‘doxxers’.

Google employees were set to conduct a major meeting on gender issues in the wake of the widely condemned 10-page manifesto published by now former employee James Damore, but it has been cancelled by CEO Sundar Pichai.

According to Recode, in a letter to employees, Pichai said that holding the meeting would potentially bring harm to staff who have had their names and personal information published on sites in a practice known as ‘doxxing’.

“We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do, to bring us together and move forward. But our Dory questions appeared externally this afternoon and, on some websites, Googlers are now being named personally,” Pichai said.

“Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question in the town hall.”

He added: “In the coming days, we will find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely.”

Up to 60,000 of the company’s employees were set to attend the meeting to discuss the fallout of Damore’s blog post, which criticised Google’s attitude towards diversity.

Many widely condemned his claim that biological differences between the sexes is why women struggle to reach the top positions in tech.

Damore speaks out

However, after news emerged that Damore had been fired by Google for his claims, he proceeded to speak with right-leaning YouTube personalities claiming that he had been “smeared” and “shamed” by Google’s executives.

Meanwhile, 60 of Google’s current employees have used the public backlash against sexism within the tech industry to begin legal proceedings against the company, claiming were and still are paid less than men, despite having greater qualifications.

At the time, a Google spokesperson said that the number of people involved in the case was a “really small sample size”, adding that “there are always going to be differences in salary based on location, role and performance, but the process is blind to gender”.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking in 2015. Image: Nguyen Hung Vu/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic