"Excessive alcohol: Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse. But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking (~20% of cases). Our policy is clear: Excessive consumption of alcohol is not permitted when you are at work, performing Google business, or attending a Google-related event, whether onsite or offsite. Going forward, all leaders at the company - Directors, VPs and SVPs - will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged. For example, many teams have already put two-drink limits in place for events. Others use drink ticket systems. The onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams, and we will impose more onerous actions if problems persist."
As someone who's been exposed to heavy drinking culture in Silicon Valley, this is a huge step in the right direction. I hope more companies and tech events adopt this.
I know it sounds a bit extreme. But, after reading "It doesn't have to be crazy it work," I feel like companies use alcohol to bribe employees to stay at the office after-hours.
A midground would be drinking only with sit-down food. Nobody is doing shots while having dinner. Another idea could be making company social functions a lunch activity, rather than a dinner one.
I personally want to work somewhere who values me as a responsible human being, and expects me to behave like one. The more a workplace feels like they have to micromanage their employees like children, the more I would expect their workplace to be filled with people who act like children. And I personally wouldn’t want to work somewhere like that.
Hire intelligent, respectful, ethical, empathetic, mature adults to do interesting work. Fire the ones who don’t live up to it.
I expect workplace requirements to be spelled out in terms of expected behavior, expected performance, expected results. Define the outputs.
And take responsibility up the chain. IMO the right policy is not to ban alcohol entirely. Rather, if an employee behaves inappropriately the employee is responsible, but if the manager created the environment which lead to the behavior (whether that be approving the purchase of a keg and cheering for a keg stand, or not stopping that engineer from being verbally abusive at the daily stand ups) the manager is also held to account.
This is exactly what I always thought until I ended up working at a place that did not ban anything. I had no idea how far some will take this freedom, until I saw it, and then I thought: Wish this place banned a few things.
Apparently, many of the people Google is hiring are not intelligent, respectful, ethical, empathetic, or mature. The problem is, once you've hired them, firing them requires investigations, proofs, lawsuits, internet drama, and so forth. I'd imagine going after managers would be even more problematic.
I'd just as soon work for a place that bans alcohol, including at the unofficial, optional-mandatory social functions. In fact, that pretty well describes every place I've worked.
It seems almost taboo to say this in 2018 but in my experience alcohol, when used by intelligent, respectful, mature adults facilitates healthy bonds that would not be there otherwise and persist long after the effects of the alcohol have worn off.
With the possible exception of salespeople entertaining clients, there's no need to drink on duty, and if you do, there is a consequence.
What exactly is the justification for endorsing drinking at work?
a) to want to stay at the company with their friends, less turnover
b) to be happier at work which is good for performance, recruiting, and makes them less likely to feel the need to rush out of the office whenever they can.
c) to efficiently organize themselves and find the right people to get things done if they know each other well
d) to be transparent to each other and reduce friction in communications
You might not ever have some beer or wine when you socialize with people, but for a huge number of people that's viewed as an integral part of socializing.
It's the behavior that is punishable regardless of whether you were drinking or not.
What portion of responsibility will the victims attorney pin on you?
That’s why you’re usually advised to get a liability policy for weddings and large parties.
That said, how many hours' sleep the night before a day's work is acceptable?
Rules don't have to be written around BAC, they can be written around behavior or impairment.
(In fact, while they tend to also have a BAC cutoff for ease of proof, criminal drunk driving laws also are written around impairment, and corporate policy doesn't even have to worry about proof issues in at-will jurisdictions, because there is no proof requirement.)
No, it's still against federal law, which covers California.
The gist of what the parent comment is saying, is that, if you have a policy in place to "compensate" for a certain "negative trait," what you are actually doing is inviting _more_ of that trait, because you are signaling that your company will put effort in to help deal with that, which means that someone who needs help monitoring their alcohol consumption would be _more likely_ to work for you, thus accomplishing essentially the opposite of what you wanted.
Mature adults who do _not_ need someone else to monitor their alcohol consumption are far more likely to inherently present with the responsible, adult behaviors that you desire. But, a mature adult who can already sufficiently moderate their own alcohol consumption is going to be _less likely_ to want to work at a place where said consumption is heavily, outwardly regulated/enforced, because why would they want to be constantly told something that they have already fully incorporated into their mature, adult habits and personality?
My priority is to have swift, clear consequences for harassment. If you are drinking at work and in your buzz behave inappropriately, I want you walked out of the building for the alcohol and spare the victim from the more harm.
You don’t need to infantalize folks. It’s really simple: if you want to go get drinks, there’s a bar down the road.
That doesn't seem to describe Google's employees. (Or anyone under the age of 30, for that matter, says the little tiny cynic who lives on my shoulder.)
Responsible human beings don't drink alcohol in the workplace. If a person is drawing a salary, they should be presenting to work fit & as prepared as possible to do it. There is no good reason for employees to be drinking at or prior to work. Unless, I suppose, there is some well-replicated study showing that alcohol in low doses increases cognitive function despite all my expectations.
Management doesn't have a magic crystal ball to tell truth from falsehood and fact from hearsay - and because of that uncertainty firing people is a far last resort for creating a safe and welcoming workspace. Banning alcohol at work is both prudent and reasonable.
I used to work for a large well respected software company. On Fridays, after work, there was a subsidized bar where we could have a beer or two and discuss work or non-work things in a more relaxed atmosphere. Would you ban that?
If I go to a conference and we have an official conference social meet-up should I be prohibited from consuming alcohol?
I have my own straw man. You say:
> they should be presenting to work fit & as prepared as possible to do it
I propose that we ban coffee in the workplace because we should all be at 100% all the time and coffee obviously shows you aren't turning up ready to work.
On the contrary, I have a very broad view of the workplace. Yes to all your questions. I don't work in tech, and there are no subsidised bars or alcohol at conferences. We got subsidised gym memberships and tea at the conferences I'm used to. If you want to drink, your money, your time, after work. If you want to get tipsy with colleagues in your own time, it is not in any way endorsed by the company.
My personal guess is the tech industry _will_ eventually ban alcohol at all such things as the link between drinking, uninhibited men and sexual harassment is bought up again and again. The bad apples will spoil the whole barrel.
> I propose that we ban coffee in the workplace because we should all be at 100% all the time and coffee obviously shows you aren't turning up ready to work.
Well, I don't agree with you. But if you have evidence, sure. My understanding is coffee is a mild stimulant, so it should be linked to a very mild improvement in work performance - so I doubt you have evidence.
People do turn up to work unprepared. We can't really stop that - maybe they just get a bad nights sleep. But alcohol is going to have a pretty strictly negative effect, so employees shouldn't be drinking it in company hours or before work.
If I leave at 5 PM and go to a bar, how is that meaningfully different from staying in the office and starting to drink at 5?
My point about taking a narrow view is that "the workplace" is not only at-your-desk time. Its geographic-but-after-hours, related but off-site social events.
On a related note, a lot of the discussions around software project codes of conduct are based on the fact that software projects fundamentally are human endeavours. It's not just about the code you churn out. If you want to employ humans you have to let them be human. That means some degree of socializing. If you want to employ machines you have to maintain them too.
My coffee counterexample was to illustrate that your approach seems to be binary, zero tolerance. With humans involved, I think it's just not that simple.
> a subsidized bar
And if an employee does something stupid after being in that bar, it requires an absolute contortion of language to say that maybe the presence and cheapness of the grog wasn't a contributing factor. Say in a bad case a male employee sexually harasses some female coworker - the woman involved (and, I suspect, a judge) might well question why the company was enabling this. I personally think that the company should be held responsible as much as the drunk employee.
It is simply too easy to link subsidised alcohol to someone acting inappropriately due to alcohol.
> official conference social meet-up
Ditto. If the meetup is official, there should be no alcohol. Learn to socialise over a lemonade. I've seen a very large number of professionals who, somehow, manage to do just that.
> My coffee counterexample was to illustrate that your approach seems to be binary, zero tolerance. With humans involved, I think it's just not that simple.
If I, in a capacity as an employer, am going to have some responsibility for some employees actions then that employee, whilst I am responsible for them, is not going to be drinking alcohol. There risk far outweighs the hypothetical employee who can only socialise with a glass in hand.
I'm not even making that decision on any specific risk factor - alcohol leads to worse decisions, in a way that coffee does not. We live in an age where companies are often responsible for outcomes in a _very broad_ definition of "workplace". If the company might be responsible, then employees have a responsibility to be making their best decisions.
If you want to drink with your workmates the process should be organise it unofficially, go find a bar and don't wear a hat with a corporate logo on it. It isn't hard to do. If drinking is mandatory to having a career then that is the problem, not my hardline approach to alcohol.
By suggesting that companies ban taking part in that activity, but not preventing them from taking an ever increasing part of our lives through long hours and after work events, you are effectively advocating that we ban the activity in it's entirety
So I would not want to work where you're in charge where everything I may want to do (or consume) is judged on its productivity basis.
You probably have habits that sacrifice your work performance. There's a good chance, at the very least, you weigh more than you should, work out less than you should, and eat fewer vegetables than you should. You might even have children or plan to have them one day. Yikes!
And all of these cost you much more than the morale boosting beer I get to share with my team as is tradition towards the end of a Friday.
So do many other things. If the only thing that keeps morale acceptable is providing alcohol, then you have a problem either with the people you hire, the work you make them do, or the amount of resources you're willing to expend on morale.
Is that really not a solution here ?
at the end of the day, people should be accountable for their own actions, and i should not be punished if i want to have a beer after working hours with colleagues because a tiny minority of people at my company cant drinking responsibly
Not for the victim.
The punishment should fit the crime, and most situations are warrant only a warning or a minor punishment - and if behavior improves, all is well.
If you have that policy and then start down the road of first-offense warnings, or trying to match the punishment to the crime, you end up in exactly the place where a lot of companies are now. (This isn't a new idea; it's how companies have always operated.) Without a specific set of policies, the company literally cannot do anything right: If you fire someone because his coworkers say they cannot work with him, everyone starts frothing at the mouth. If you pay someone else to leave because he's too important to fire, everyone digs out their pitchforks and torches. If you do nothing, it blows up in your face, spectacularly.
As a ridiculous hyperbole: assume a life in prison minimum sentence is established for speeding, on the first offense, and that it's actually enforced. I guarantee you that very quickly we'd have everyone driving under the posted speed limit at all times.
"If most offenses are first offenses" satisfies the predicate "Unless [% of first offenses] is a really low number"
The consequent "firing after a first offense won't help much" is consistent with "firing after first offense won't reduce the total number of incidents enough."
But quick change is often more desirable than real change.
Not extreme at all. Except for salespeople having business lunches, in the United States, drinking on company time is pretty much verboten outside of the tech bubble.
I don't think this is true, especially for company parties. I have also heard of people in other industries drinking in the office, usually these were smaller companies, or the people doing the drinking were upper management.
When I was at OpenDNS, @davidu used to say something along the lines of, "When you try to host a big company party with over 100 people, you expect to have to fire somebody for their behavior there. Don't be that person." Maybe the costs don't outweigh the benefits of work parties.
What's even more ridiculous is that beef is the costly meat from an environmental perspective, but they've also banned poultry and all other types of meat. I can understand not serving meat, but not allowing employees to expense meals involving meat would make me reconsider working there - especially because of the heavy handed way they did it.
I'm not aware of this, and would be interested in knowing more; as I understand currently, that flow really does apply.
Maybe some companies out there also banned slave ownership across the board. Probably seemed unfair, too. Did they not realize how useful slaves are?
Now, this seems like a silly comparison because we're all so used to eating meat for every meal, but does familiarity trump ethical concerns?
I think you may be overestimating the volume of job applicants that pay attention to such policies, and/or their qualifications.
I am referring only to the prohibition on expensing certain types of meals, not non-meat food/environments in general.
I see this sentiment a lot (especially on HN!) and I share it. I usually skip team dinners when I can. But there's no accounting for taste, and humans in general seem to have a taste for mixing work and "social stuff", so why shouldn't companies encourage it in that capacity?
I don't see why alcohol (excludes non-drinkers) or team-building activities outside of business hours (excludes those with family commitments) couldn't be one of those things.
Here's the box you will be working in. Don't forget to turn off the light when you leave Friday.
It's my meal ticket, not my hobby; it needs to be tolerable.
The "fun at work" meme is, IMO, a way to keep people in the office longer a la the GOOOOG's Gilded Cage.
I am not going to work anywhere that I don't enjoy. I will instead quit and go somewhere else.
You are free to do otherwise. But just be aware that people have fun at work because they like to do so. And many people would quit if they didn't enjoy their work
Or you could list the attributes that you expect people to have during the hiring process and then decline to hire those that don't fit the company's culture.
In my case, that's taking occasional walks to the coffeeshop nearby, despite their lack of inclusiveness of people with mobility problems and those who don't like coffee.
You are free to choose otherwise, but me and many other people have the ability of quiting and working in better work environments.
The other side of that is the question, "How much damage has skipping employer social events done to your career?" You'll probably never know the answer.
I'm sure they didn't have "get drunk and make everyone listen to their inappropriate jokes or worse" on their mind when they left the office.
This change is mostly talking about work social events that take place off site. My team's company holiday party last year was piloting this and gave each person two drink tickets upon entering.
I think banning alcohol completely would reduce the attendance of these social events, so this is a good step where we can keep the social benefits without letting it get out of hand. For instance the holiday party I mentioned was on a Friday night. I really enjoy having a few drinks on a Friday night, and I'm much more likely to attend a Google party with 2 drinks tickets than one with zero. I know that sounds silly and immature, but it's honest.
The "fun places to work" eventually figure out that fun for some is often at the expense of others, and that most things corporate environments have ruled out were ruled out a long time ago because they didn't work well.
In France it is common to have a small party (pot) during work hours when some people would have one drink. Max two.
These also can be at the end of the day but then usually this is by someone who is leaving.
Ummm... no, it's not.
Having had dozens of jobs in five industries over the decades, I've never worked for one where drinking on company time isn't a fireable offense.
The only exceptions were at the company Christmas parties, and overnight DJ's who were tolerated doing lines of coke off of CD cases. But that's another problem altogether.
Our Christmas parties are as boring as a carbide drill bit.
I won't say it's unheard of for myself and my colleagues to have a beer or glass of wine at a work lunch in the tech industry. But it's certainly a rare event though definitely more common when visiting Europe.
Scapegoating alcohol seems like an excuse and really is like babysitting your adult employees.
My view - Drink as much alcohol as you like! And if you imbibe too much, and do stupid things, that shows deficient decision making abilities, and you aren't fit to work here.
That reality, and the reality of addiction, presents a few problems for the hypothetical employee here:
- Attending work events that do have alcohol may cause them to endure a great deal of hardship (talk to a recently-abstinent alcoholic if you doubt this).
- Addiction has no conclusive test or diagnosis--AAD and other indicators are often not present in people who enter rehab, or in people whose substance abuse is identified as a primary motivator for criminal behavior by courts. This means that "getting trashed and acting like an ass", for "real addicts" (whatever that means, which is a troublesome qualifier to add in and of itself) is difficult to prove to be the fault of the company providing alcohol, and for non-addicts is a convenient out (if provided to the former group).
- "Actually required to go to an event" is another troublesome category. Many events aren't "required" . . . unless you want to get promoted/not eventually get fired in favor of someone who attended. I don't propose some legal solution to this (everything I can think of would effectively be thought-policing), but it's an important ambiguity to acknowledge.
- Even if a humane HR/management department exists to whom the hypothetical employee could disclose their condition as a disability, and even if that department lobbied the employee's managers/colleagues to prevent addiction from being a disadvantage to their career, that would still likely result in either a breach of that employee's privacy or eventual prejudice seeping in (e.g. via turnover inside HR) regardless. Not good.
- If those recourses fail, and the employee ends up before the courts pleading wrongful-termination or equivalent based on their addiction, the (at least state) US court system and arbitration organizations are notoriously inconsistent and prejudiced against claims of addiction as any sort of mitigating or complicating circumstance. A company interested in preserving the autonomy, promotability, and dignity of addicted employees would likely view the courts as something the employee in question should be kept away from for their own benefit.
There are many other considerations.
Now, many of those apply to any uncommon disability condition, and it could be argued that below a certain point a very few employees' accommodations should not ruin the fun for everyone else. Even if you buy that argument, the incidence of addiction/substance-abuse related serious lifestyle trouble—principally at work or in romantic relationships—for very large numbers of people in the US is well documented.
Perhaps it would be better to simply forbid the creation of such situations on the company dime.
I tend not to drink around work because of the expectation of professional behavior and I'm just uncomfortable around people I have a professional relationship. However, I've been at companies who have cut alcohol because a few people are sensitive. (I'm not referring to those who are alcoholics that have self-discipline issues) It's annoying.
A couple drinks helps get me out of my own head enough to relax with co-workers. After a couple hours, the two beers have worn off and I usually want another one or two to keep my sociability going.
I'd much prefer a policy where everyone gets to decide in advance how many drink tickets they want and perhaps say "these tickets aren't good until X time." This would help everyone to regulate their own intake, and it treats employees like adults capable of managing their own bodies while still addressing the issue of people over-consuming by accident or in an unaccountable manner.
It drives me nuts when companies let a few bad actors ruin a loose policy rather than addressing the issue with the bad actors, but I know, legally, having a strict, spelled-out policy is safer (easier to defend against lawsuits) legally.
At a small or mid-sized company, ½% of bad actors can be one or two or three.
At a company the size of Google, ½% of bad actors can be hundreds or thousands of human liabilities.
I think it's a question of where to draw the line. I'm sure an argument could be made that they should get rid of the bikes on their campuses because a percentage of people will hurt themselves on them or hurt someone else and be a legal risk.
Then you would get people like me, asking for lots of tickets as you can just discard those when you are done but you would not be able to ask for extra ones. At that point, you could just remove the ticket system as it doesn't work anymore
The goal is to help responsible adults remain responsible adults after a couple drinks when parts of your brain tell you to drink more than you know you should.
The default of two drinks per night is a good starting point; my point is to let responsible adults decide for themselves ahead of time if more than two would be good for them.
we don't need some rube goldberg system of drink metering. we need people to handle their own shit. if they actually behave badly you can always fire them.
If you need alcohol to socialize, then you have a problem and should get help.
That's seriously one of the signs of a problem. Ironically, I'll tell you to "Google it."
Fifteen minutes later, the office manager joins in, interrupting, and starts hitting on me in a pretty blunt way. I enjoy female attention but that was a bit much. I tactfully hint that I'm not interested but she doesn't picks it up so I leave early, a bit salty.
The next morning I arrive to work and see an elevator about to close so I rush to catch it. She was inside! The following three minutes were the most awkward elevator ride in my life. I felt bad for her to be honest, maybe I shouldn't, but it must be so embarrassing when you sober up.
It's much more awkward the next day after drunk sex in a deserted office though.
On the flip side, people have made up stories of me being drunk after having 2 drinks, and my having had any drinks at all makes my side of the story have no credibility. No good. Like when a cop pulls you over and asks if you've had any drinks.
So I'm all for getting booze out of the workplace. I'd had my consumption limited to 2 drinks for my past 4 jobs after being fired for saying obnoxious things while drunk. A company holiday party where the tequila was flowing was the only exception, but I kept the volume down that time. I deserved the firing, no complains there.
It's my personality to say obnoxious things, having been raised on dark and vulgar comedy. My only way to joke around authentically now is without drinking, sadly, because of the nature of accusations against people who've been drinking. Just one example, I'm sure other people have personally entertaining activities that they always do but people think they must be drunk when they do it, no matter how sober. Dancing's another one... the more sober I am, the more people ask "bro, what are you on?"
My twitter is a good example of what I feel free to say while sober. Reading it, you'd think I'm always drunk.
I also am noticing after a year on break from drinking that all drinkers are mentally lazy to some degree, and some tell lies assuming that the other party won't notice and I'm likely guilty of that from my drinking days. It's like their memory isn't good so they assume nobody else's is, yet they claim perfect memory.
A little meandering, I know... but overall I think a no alcohol policy would be great.
This is from Stephanie Hurlburt's Twitter a while back.
Ah, game industry culture and drinking. I don’t drink. I also feel unsafe being in a mostly-male group when they’re all drinking. ...
The usual "best practice" advice on avoiding harassment is to not pursue romance at work... but how are folks supposed to do that if they don't have time to pursue it anywhere else? Alcohol might only be a minor contributing factor at that point.
I'm joking...well 1/2 joking anyway. (sigh)
I've heard stories about Korean chaebols that are hard to believe, but I'm sure there are intense workplace antipatterns worldwide.
Apparently it was a paternalistic policy that came directly from Watson, who not only banned alcohol during work time including lunch, but also paid the wage on Monday to somehow honder spending it all in alcohol over the weekend.
Lastly, I'm not an alcoholic but I have friends who've struggled with it and my heart really goes out to them. Alcohol is everywhere at work functions and I think it's really insensitive. I could live the rest of my life and never have drinks be part of a professional function and be just fine.
What are the other factors. Are there any higher than 20%.
As someone who spent a summer in college working for a prominent Silicon Valley startup with open bars and a frat-like culture... I had fun at the time, but in restrospect, that's no kind of work environment I'd want to stay in full time. And I imagine it would be very alienating as a woman.
Edit: Lots of up and down votes. Why is this question so controversial? I'd like to see an argument as to why it's an invalid or flawed question.
To me, this implies that our engineering organizations, and entire company, need to have an appropriate amount of empathy across a broad spectrum of geographies, cultures, experiences, perspectives, and the like. You only get that by having a diversity of talent, and more importantly, inclusion in your engineering practices.
When I talk about diversity, I usually say; "There are two forms of diversity, DNA diversity, the stuff we usually talk about in terms of color, sex, etc, things you can see, and then there's diversity of perspectives and experiences. You need the diversity of experiences and perspectives. In some cases that's conveniently wrapped in some forms of DNA diversity, but is not exclusive to that".
I don't think the question is at all controversial, and we should not be afraid to openly talk about it.
Well, this is a pretty contrived example, but IIRC a major company (HP?) made facial-recognition software that couldn't handle people with dark skin.
If there had been people like that on the dev or testing team, perhaps it would have been noticed earlier.
And are you aware that non-DNA differences also create divisions?
I would argue there's often correlation between these types of diversity
Did they think about what they said there before printing? Because there are plenty of organizations which we definitely do not want to achieve more (e.g. drug cartels, nazi parties).
In the OKR framework, being able to measure your progress towards the goal is important. The real question is, which aspects of people who work for your company do you measure to ensure proper decisions around inclusion to achieve the equity goal?
It's easiest to measure by 'skin deep' factors b/c that is what human beings most easily make poor decisions on (fear, bias, stereotype, self-segregation, NIMBY-ism, etc). It is also required for companies to report to the US government on these factors because of our history of poor decisions (to put it lightly). It is therefore easiest to use that as a metric.
Serious question: If implied in your question that the goal should be equity in 'thought', how do you propose that is measured?
OP mentioned "ideas & experience," not "thought," which seems like an intentional framing as something unbounded and immeasurable.
Diversity of ideas could be measured by the average number of options/solutions that are seriously considered (and investigated/piloted) over the course of multiple projects for a team.
Diversity of experience seems somewhat obvious to me. But if you want clarity on this as well, the idea would be to value various types of experiences in the same way that companies value diverse outward traits like gender, sex, skin color, racial identity, etc. It's a balance. You could hire a person of each gender/skin color combination, but if they all grew up in the New England suburbs and all of them went to either MIT or Harvard, you are generally NOT going to have a diversity of experience, even though everyone _looks_ different. On the other end of the scale, you could hire one person from each type of school, big state school, small technical school, ivy league, "public ivy", liberal arts college, bootcamp graduate, etc. Hire people native to your country/culture, and people who come from a different part of the world. But if they are all white men, you are not going to realize as much benefit.
I think it's important to make an attempt to combine all of these concepts to come up with something that approaches the concept of "diversity of thought."
> gender/skin color combination, but if they all grew up in the New England suburbs and all of them went to either MIT or Harvard, you are generally NOT going to have a diversity of experience, even though everyone _looks_ different
Unfortunately, there are many stories, points of evidence, and history that say people who look different, but come from the same place and education level DO have different experiences. Race and gender are exponentially powerful factors that can change a person's experience and outlook no matter how wealthy they are or what school they graduated from.
It's become apparent to me that diversity is an ambiguous terms and its interpretation can vary a lot over many factors and time. I am not discounting any definition of it. When it comes up, it feels like people are on different pages with it. It could more prudent to state the definition when it is said.
What they seem to be doing is judging people based on surface traits, not the content of character. Their approach to diversity is a regression and not good for progress.
>It doesn't matter what color people are.
I hope you realize the absurdity of this statement in isolation...
Do you believe that a poor black kid from Detroit is only different in "surface traits" as compared to a rich white kid from Orange County?
Or would you be willing to concede that there may be reliable correlations between some "surface traits" and diversity of life experiences and viewpoints? Demographic analysis of things like voting patterns in the US seems to suggest differences of such magnitude that I doubt you'd find another factor more strongly predictive.
I don’t think this is a good goal. Unless you mean equity of opportunity. Equity of outcome is a ridiculously foolish goal in that outcomes will vary substantially and trying to have equity at the end on arbitrary human factors with easy to measure biases (gender, race, etc).
So the goal is not 45/45/10 for gender distribution for all roles. As that is obviously impossible as roles change and then people would need to be redistributed ad infinitum (eg, project managers have “perfect” gender diversity of 45/45/10 today but now the role is changes and split into product owner and product manager. Does this mean that the roles must include the same gender mix?)
I think we want an equitable outcome and that most people (regardless of any other opinion) would actually agree that equality of outcome is not necessary.
Is it fair that now a sub population has different gender distributions? Is it fair that 90% of programmers are male? Etc etc. I think it is counterproductive and too late to making meaningful changes based on outcomes.
Perhaps if you get to a high enough macro, but even then, I see logical weaknessss in opinions comparing income based on gender because outcome does not, necessarily, mean bias. It’s just easier to measure.
I think, especially with improved technology, that 10% will be more common. Cynically thinking, it will be easier if there were some specific quota. Gender is probably the easiest protected class to change after religion, so it’s especially sensitive to outcome quotas.
So, this system is used in the United States, right?
The decision what to measure is a problem in itself which what the OP is trying to say, we tend to look at skin colour and gender, what about height, IQ, chest hair, glasses, political tendencies, levels of aggression and whatever other measurable classification I could find?
Equity of outcome usually means a gulag or a concentration camp, that's the only place where there is equity of outcome and that's the destiny of any society which aspire for such a ridiculous idea. It is evident that the more egalitarian societies are and the more thee is equality of opportunity people tend to cluster according to their preferences and capabilities and there is actually less equity of outcome because those are not equally distributed, which is actually good.
Well, to nitpick even further, those propositions are logically mutually exclusive.
"Does the Chief Diversity Officer include diversity of ideas and experience [as well as surface traits]?" Or is it [only surface traits]"
Abstracted, could be "(p and q) OR (p and !q)" which is literally mutually exclusive.
No, I'm not usually so pedantic, I just thought it was interesting.
Oddly enough, my use of or seems to violates the very rule it is used to describe.
And yet time and time again we'll see images of a workforce of predominantly white males and someone will claim "no diversity", as if having white skin and a penis makes you the same as the next guy.
Plus, surface diversity is much easier to measure; and you optimize for your metrics.
 Ideally a diversity officer would stand up for Damore. But I have no idea what went on behind the scenes of that decidion.
That claim depends entirely on how you interpret Damore's behavior. Tolerance does not and must not require tolerating intolerance .
I'm not stating a claim as to whether or not Damore's behavior should be considered intolerance. I don't have a take on that. But without having some opinion on that, you can't claim a priori that a diversity officer is obligated to enable his views.
The statement I made in my previous comment does not actually require this however. Even if Damore was actually acting in bad faith, fireing him would still have a chilling effect unless it was thought by every Googler that he was clearly acting in bad faith.
Further, I would excpect a Chief Diversity Officer to understand how perception alone can create a hostile environment, so ignorance of this (or disagreemrnent about the facts of the case) is not a good excuse.
You can't help side effects. If someone is acting in a way that is detrimental to the company, you have to fire them, even if you know it will upset some other people in the company.
On the other hand, it's rather convenient how much intolerance can itself be justified by simply quoting that and just a bit of rules lawyering.
I honestly hate how often this is trotted out. Does no one realize that this claim is not based on any evidence whatsoever? Why prefer Popper's claim over Rawls' or Jefferson's?
This is typically used to justify yet more intolerance, and around and around we go.
"In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force;"
Seems Popper would not have much issue with tolerating Damore, but tolerating things like Neo-nazi marches probably crosses his line.
Probably not even then! Neo-nazis are a tiny minority that's suppressed by public opinion. Now if they were to suddenly start gaining political power, then we have a real problem.
And yet it remains an interesting thought experiment, doesn't it? Didn't it work on Reddit, in which they found that driving hateful communities out raised the level of discourse? And a possible way to structure society. Hitler himself admitted that had the Nazis not been tolerated, they wouldn't have gained the foothold they did. Not only do I prefer Popper's claim, but I prefer the Frankfurt School's claim too. Which, in my view, stands firmly in line with the democratic functions of society envisioned by such liberals as J.S. Mill for instance.
But it comes down to ideology; it is not a crime nor an intellectual failing to dismiss liberalism on ideological grounds.
Sure, but that doesn't make it a sound policy for real political discourse.
> Didn't it work on Reddit, in which they found that driving hateful communities out raised the level of discourse?
Or did it simply fuel a growing narrative of censorship and persecution which is driving the counter-PC culture and electing people like Trump? I don't think analyzing this as a closed system is faithful to the point I'm making, because these changes can and do have negative externalities.
> Hitler himself admitted that had the Nazis not been tolerated, they wouldn't have gained the foothold they did.
So basically, had the majority of the country not been sympathetic to Nazi principles, then Nazis wouldn't have gotten elected? That strikes me as absurdly tautological. A minority of people cannot be resist the wishes of a majority via intolerance, and if good people are the majority, then they can safely ignore the minority.
> Not only do I prefer Popper's claim, but I prefer the Frankfurt School's claim too.
This claim at that link is pure nonsense: "Tolerance is a democratic principle, since it relies on the idea that nobody has an absolute claim on the truth"
No, simply false. Tolerance is justified by the recognition that all people have intrinsic value ala Kant, that they are thinking feeling beings and that unless you wish to launch your own campaign for genocide against people with whom you disagree, then you should seek to convince them of your version of the truth using non-violent means.
The only time violence is justified is in response to violence. The far left and the far right are both guilty of violating this principle.
I can't see why not.
>Or did it simply fuel a growing narrative of censorship and persecution which is driving the counter-PC culture and electing people like Trump?
No. And besides, on the logic that it might make people angry or convinced of their delusional views therefore we shouldn't do it is very poor reasoning.
>because these changes can and do have negative externalities.
In the same way that naive tolerance does?
>had the majority of the country not been sympathetic to Nazi principles, then Nazis wouldn't have gotten elected?
"Only one thing could have broken our movement – if the adversary had understood its principle and from the first day had smashed with extreme brutality the nucleus of our new movement." (A Hitler at the 1933 Nuremberg Nazi Party rally)
"If our opponents had been clever, considering that political weapons were so unevenly distributed, they could have undoubtedly found ways and opportunities to make our success impossible." (J Goebbels, 1934)
"If the enemy had known how weak we were, it would probably have reduced us to jelly. It would have crushed in blood the very beginning of our work" (J Goebbels, 1934)
>Tolerance is justified by the recognition that all people have intrinsic value ala Kant
Not in democratic society; can you point me to which Kantian thinkers (including Kant himself!) whose thought formed the basis of any modern state? Tolerance as we know it emerged only with the emergence of widespread democracy after the French revolution beginning in Western Europe and the American revolution in the New World. Both republics founded on democracy (and therefore tolerance), not a Kantian maxim. As Marcuse said in 1965,
"Moreover, in endlessly dragging debates over the media, the stupid opinion is treated with the same respect as the intelligent one, the misinformed may talk as long as the informed, and propaganda rides along with education, truth with falsehood. This pure toleration of sense and nonsense is justified by the democratic argument that nobody, neither group nor individual, is in possession of the truth and capable of defining what is right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, all contesting opinions must be submitted to 'the people' for its deliberation and choice. But I have already suggested that the democratic argument implies a necessary condition, namely, that the people must be capable of deliberating and choosing on the basis of knowledge, that they must have access to authentic information, and that, on this. basis, their evaluation must be the result of autonomous thought."
>The only time violence is justified is in response to violence.
I disagree, and as I said earlier, it's no crime to disagree with liberal dogma like this. But if we must go this route, what does violence say of structural violence, for instance?
Good thing that isn't what I suggested then.
> In the same way that naive tolerance does?
Define "naive" tolerance. Seems like you're either assuming the conclusion, or trying to persuade with loaded language.
> "Only one thing could have broken our movement – if the adversary had understood its principle and from the first day had smashed with extreme brutality the nucleus of our new movement." (A Hitler at the 1933 Nuremberg Nazi Party rally) > > "If our opponents had been clever, considering that political weapons were so unevenly distributed, they could have undoubtedly found ways and opportunities to make our success impossible." (J Goebbels, 1934) > > "If the enemy had known how weak we were, it would probably have reduced us to jelly. It would have crushed in blood the very beginning of our work" (J Goebbels, 1934)
Ah, so if they hadn't been sympathetic or they had been able to read minds so as to discern the intentions of Nazi party leaders. Well that's totally reasonable then.
Honestly, precisely what expressions of intolerance do you think would have prevented the rise of the Nazi party? Everything you've quoted is devoid of anything concrete.
> Not in democratic society; can you point me to which Kantian thinkers (including Kant himself!) whose thought formed the basis of any modern state?
Irrelevant. The question is whether Kantian principles entail the relevant conclusion. We are beholden not only to government law, but moral law as well. Or do you think it's ethical or virtuous to violate the spirit of a law while following the letter of the law?
Furthermore, my claim is not that all opinions are equally valid and deserving of equal attention. My claim is that changing opinions by non-coercive means is right. Doxxing, violence, and online mobs are not right way to change opinion.
> I disagree, and as I said earlier, it's no crime to disagree with liberal dogma like this.
Not a legal crime, but nowadays it's certainly a social crime enforced by mob rule.
> But if we must go this route, what does violence say of structural violence, for instance?
That it can and should be alleviated by non-violent means, taking into consideration social inertia, ie. that it takes time for a message to propagate and persuade enough of the public. As Per MLK, violence begets violence. All the most revered figures of effective social change advocated non-violent means.
There is considerable debate whether the terrorism perpetrated by the suffragettes actually helped their cause. They clearly turned much of the public against the cause, and at best, they gained publicity for the cause, which was clearly possible to do via other means.
I think this is key. Until "diversity" becomes so absolutely fragmented that you get back down to the level of the individual (e.g.you need a non-Hispanic Latino coder, who is Christian but not Catholic, was born poor but still got into an Ivy League, must be over 6 feet tall, and her name must begin with "A"), we will continue to burn resources, mental energy, and time on ensuring that we can't get sued.
There are plenty of Asians in tech (men and women) and yet we're always hearing about a "diversity" problem. This is why tech no longer uses the term minority - they use "underrepresented minority" instead.
Asians are a minority group, but are vastly over-represented in tech, to the point that even white people are under-represented by comparison.
The concern about racial diversity tends to focus on the idea that white hiring managers are subconsciously selective against non-white applicants. This doesn't make sense though when you factor in the minority groups that are actually over-represented.
So what has happened is that the argument has shifted to ignore Asian representation and only focus on black and Latino representation, while still coming to the same conclusion that white hiring managers are subconsciously racist and that the company needs to take corrective action.
The representation of Asians and Indians in tech should not necessarily reduce concerns for other minorities that are under-represented, but should definitely change the way those concerns are framed. The fact that it hasn't suggests that some sort of tomfoolery is afoot.
Of course it makes sense. It means that instead of subconsciously being biased against the non white category, they are instead biased against non white non Asians.
That was an easy logical deduction there.
Maybe it has less to do with bias and more do to with preference and culture and upbringing and other factors. Consider how much asian parents, for example, push their kids in education and toward certain careers. Or the over representation of black people in sports and music. Or the dominance of women in teaching and healthcare. Etc.
The concern is far more nuanced than that. It includes concerns about the the rates of representation all through the pipeline, from hiring back through University CS programs to differences in access to high quality primary and secondary education.
The problems are largely understood as being systemic, arising from unequal opportunity and different social signaling to different groups, not solely from the decisions of hiring managers.
If you take popular preconceptions/prejudices around "white" "black" "hispanic" "asian", etc, maybe it doesn't match as well.
What you're missing is that many employers don't have the perspective whereby gender, skin color or political views are irrelevant. Biases against gender, race and religion are part of the reason that many professions have been dominated by certain races, genders and religions (although laws have attempted to counteract this effect.)
The point of diversity in the workplace is to force an implicitly prejudiced employment market to be less prejudiced than it otherwise might be, just as the point of labor laws and the minimum wage are to force companies to care more about their employees' welfare than they otherwise would.
Yes, but you can mitigate those biases with gender/race-blind hiring practices. This seems like a much fairer and more reasonable option than enforcing quotas.
- They only work at the screening stages. Most hiring pipelines conclude with an in-person interview, and that can't be blind.
- People are very good at reading between the lines and can often infer race and gender from education and work history alone (or at least, infer deviations from their preferred norms).
- It doesn't address the problem of industry pipelines filtering against diversity before the applications ever get to you.
- A manager who doesn't want to hire women can just treat a blindly-hired woman badly until she leaves.
- It implies to the company that diversity is something that must be hidden rather than something that should be tolerated or celebrated.
- It implies to applicants that you have intolerant managers who need to be tricked.
All I know is gender/race-blind hiring works fantastically for things like music auditions. For technology-based jobs where most of the interview process can be done in writing, over the phone, or over a shared virtual whiteboard or document (for coding or drawing diagrams), there's no reason why everything up to the in-person interview can't be as age, gender, and race blind as possible.
> you're forming up an artificial construct that ultimately results in poorer overall performance (since you had to reject a number of candidates that likely were more qualified for the position in order to reach your equal distribution goals).
That's precisely where I disagree. Again, in a coal mine you might just want to hire for simple traits that can be easily evaluated per individual (like physical strength). But on the types of teams I mentioned, the diversity of experiences and opinions across the team probably matters as much or even more than the sum of every individual's "talents." I would guess that this diversity becomes more important the larger the team gets and the larger the audience for their products/services gets.
To be clear, I also suspect that more diverse teams are more difficult to hire and manage effectively, and that's probably a big reason that some companies either don't care about diversity or actively resist the suggestion to increase their diversity.
Put in the most mercenary way I can think of:
There are and have always also been professions in which hiring decisionmakers screw their own organizations out of talent by ignoring or down-ranking candidates they were bigoted against. There similarly are/have been professions in which talented people with potential to add great value have been driven away by similarly bigoted leaders.
We don't know what might have been, what potential might have been achieved, because of the idiotic/cruel things we've practiced throughout history. Acting like ethical, compassionate, empathetic people seems like a way more pragmatic way than "well, it worked so far, let's keep being bigoted assholes" to see if we could do better in the future.
Once all those studies that send out the same exact resume with the names John, Jane, T'yesha, Jamal, Xiaoying, and Shan Shan at the top find you get the same number of callbacks, then we'll actually be in a situation where people are being hired on their qualifications!
Besides, what do you mean by fair recruitment? Because personally in this context I view diversity and fairness as contradicting terms, since it would always be more fair to hire a candidate that has higher qualifications and is a good cultural fit over one that wasn't as qualified, but turned out to be a good match when it comes to meeting present quarter's diversity goals?
I believe that basing hiring decisions on physical appearance, race, religion, gender or political views is simply wrong. I recall there was a company that focused on distorting candidates' voices during phone interviews that effectively prevented the interviewers from distinguishing the interviewees' gender. If companies like Google want to actually be more "fair", perhaps they should move in that direction rather than introducing artificial quotas and justifying them with a vague "need for diversity"?
This almost guarantees the perpetuation of inequality. We need to stop hiring for that kind of fit.
I'm certain that I have heard of research (by IBM maybe?) that determined that more diversity made teams more productive, but the people on the teams were less happy/comfortable.
Maybe because nobody wanted to socialize with each other so they spent more time doing work?
Diversity of race or gender is not really important when it comes to working by itself.
Diversity of experience and thought is very important when it comes to working.
What I mean is a very middle-class white family and a very middle-class black family producing offspring in a house next to each other and sending their kids to the same school(s): are not going to be functionally diverse enough for what I'm about to say.
Why?: because people who are thinking differently to you are approaching problems from other sides than you are, if you can be civil then you can build your product in ways you could never do alone.
Now; people who were raised in a different kind of culture or social class than you are basically by default: thinking differently.
It doesn't have to be colour, but in the US (from a brit perspective) your class system looks like black people are sandwiched between middle-class white folk and very low-class white folk. So some people might see that 'hiring black folk would increase our diversity of thought'
or.. more likely, they're being judged on metrics and skin colour/gender is an easy metric to game for.
Giving people an equal shot is noble and we should aspire for it. The business incentives come in because your product will be better with divergent opinions and by increasing the talent pool the supply of coders will meet the demand.. (and then they can pay coders less in the longer term)
There are some advantages. For instance, people with different religions or cultural backgrounds will have non-overlapping holidays, so your office might be open on days that you might otherwise have to close.
Or consider if you're creating a dating app, you would absolutely want a woman's input on how to reduce harassment (see Tinder vs. Bumble).
Your assumption here is that the status quo of hiring is an optimum that must be sacrificed for diversity.
The reality is that every hiring program already uses diversity as a criterion, but unless a measurable objective is set, it will invisibly optimize for the comfort of current employees, rather than job performance.
The purpose of measuring diversity in hiring practices is to remove or control a confounding factor, not to add one.
However, as other have mentioned, there are already biases to hire people "like you" and offsetting those biases is valuable. Often, I'd argue "culture fit" is an umbrella term used to keep people who are different out.
And a lot of that was caused by pervasive discrimination.
Is that the kind of "diversity of ideas and experience" you're talking about?
Damore didn't do that, by the way.
Your premise is that if the CDO’s role doesn’t include your vision of diversity it is “just skin deep”. Not everyone shares this premise, and focusing on this point also makes it sound like you dismiss all the other aspect his role could have (they’re just skin deep after all, right ?)
To get back to yor question, Google has offices all around the world, I find it hard to fault them for lack of diversity of experiences, nor do I think the thousands of people they employ all have the same ideas. I’d actually think it would be harder to find people all sharing all the same ideas.
Or do you have something a lot more specific in mind ?
Elsewhere in the thread, people are talking about excessive drinking on the job contributing to harassment. In the culture where I currently live (Japan), drinking is virtually mandatory. In fact, I once got an official reprimand for not drinking at a company event. Within the Japanese culture, drinking allows you to relax the way your present yourself. If you are drunk, it is acceptable to clearly say what you think, even if it might be embarrassing for others. This may be the only time to provide feedback up the ladder. Additionally, people higher up in the organisation are allowed to be more familiar with those lower down, which is impossible in normal every day work. This develops an honest camaraderie up and down the organisation and without the social lubricant (or excuse is probably a better word) that is alcohol, the work culture suffers.
Now, perhaps we have several Japanese people who have experienced significant success with this corporate culture. Do we want to grant it a kind of equivalent status within our organisation? Or do we want to have a kind of veto that says, "Despite your previous experience and your cultural background, this is a no-go area for our organisation"?
Even when talking about technical rather than cultural issues, there may be times when we need to limit discussion. I may have hired someone with extensive C++ experience into my Ruby on Rails team. Having that experience is really valuable. The C++ programmer can see things from different perspectives and provide solutions that are different that what the average Rails developer has seen before. However, if the C++ programmer suddenly starts demanding that all string processing should be handled in C++, we might want to limit this discussion. The C++ programmer may have lots of wonderful tools and experience to help them with this task, but the bulk of the developers on the team are not going to be able to cope. Potentially every developer on the team has some niche thing that they would like to introduce. Do we really want to provide a stage for all of these ideas, or do we want to filter them first and work on the ideas that seem most compatible with the team?
It is entirely possible that you disagree with my standpoint. I certainly have met a few people who feel that giving every person in the company an equal opportunity to pursue all of their ideas is a good idea. I have not experienced a successful company that embraced that philosophy, however. Leadership is often about focusing on a few ideas and limiting discussion that appear to be going in incompatible directions. As much as I am frustrated when my ideas get shot down without much air time, I recognise the reality of this necessity.
It's also possible that you have a completely different point that you are hoping to make and it was lost on me due to the brevity of your comment. In that case, perhaps it would be better to try to explain your position in more detail.
at most companies, we all know that the skin-deep diversity is the only thing the HR department cares about because it's all they're terrified about getting sued over. however, given google's unique corporate culture, i think that they might be forward thinking enough to seek out different perspectives, but probably not in a quota-driven fashion.
political ideology can't be a meaningful diversity goal anyway, nor should it be. there may not be a "best" ideology but promoting political ideology alone would be a terrible idea because in the current way that diversity is practiced it would require treating ideologies like nazism as on the same table as others.
My parents have always been right-leaning, working class. I, myself am far more libertarian leaning, with a bit of pragmatism. I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't like the political culture present in Google, and do not feel like my ideas would be respected in that culture at all. It emphatically does not mean that my point of view is less valid, but would more often than not be aggressively dismissed in that culture. Not to mention that I'm a cis-gendered, white male, which seems to be looked down on overall in a few of the large, progressive technical companies by itself.
In the end, it does matter. Culture, for good or bad, influences the makeup of a company. I tend to only have literally a couple drinks a month, or less generally not at work. That said, I don't feel there's shame in having a beer/ale/wine at lunch now and then. It should be about personal responsibility and accountability. It also shouldn't turn into a witch hunt without investigation.
Like most things in life, it depends.
The problem with trying to actually do it is that in recent times, one camp in particular tends to label the other as "Nazis" who must be crushed out of existence the moment they're spotted, although there are essentially no actual Nazis in the world today. In other words the side that preaches tolerance and diversity the most can't actually handle it and immediately tries to get rid of it by using the most overblown pastiches imaginable.
But the problem wasn't solved at all because the bulk of the absurd spending was caused by people who the rules didn't apply to....
Still, I am cautiously optimistic about today's announced changes.
They want to makes some news they're doing something, but regardless of organization or politics, the rules often don't apply to those in power.
I don't know any specifics of an event or anything, but I have heard a lot about how none of the rules apply anymore once you get to the inner circles.
This isn't rocket surgery; there are all sorts of mandatory training things big companies do, and they are often actually mandatory. For instance, we've worked with HIPAA-encumbered clients where you'll lose access to their network and applications if you don't complete annual security awareness training.
The "docking people in Perf" thing just seems like needless drama. Just require people to do the damn training.
Because penalties for non-compliance are how mandates are enforced; otherwise, they aren't mandates.
What you probably don't understand is really why is the penalty not immediate termination, or termination after a certain period of delinquency, not why there is a penalty, and I suspect it actually is the latter, and the downgrade in internal rating is the immediate and automatic consequence of delinquency (also, I don't know how Perf works, for all I know the stated downgrade may be enough to normally trigger being put on a PIP and terminated if the problem isn't cured quickly.)
It is not a norm in other companies to penalize people's performance reviews for failing to complete routine training. What is a norm is that your manager at some point simply demands that you stop what you're doing and complete the training. What would happen if you refused? Who knows? I assume you'd get fired for cause, the same way you would if you deliberately disregarded any other directive. Like I said: the most sophisticated training programs I've seen simply cut off people's access until they complete training (and thus, obviously, if you refused to complete the training, you'd be let go.)
The Perf downgrade is high-drama. For one thing: it sets a dollar price you can pay to not comply! For another, it throws the objectivity of performance reviews in question (there are multiple factors that affect your Perf level, not just this one!).
So, obviously, my question is: why does Google have this weird, elaborate, high-drama mechanism when it could instead just do what everyone else does: the CEO tells the VPs that all their reports need to complete training. The VPs make it happen, or are replaced. Recurse.
It's a norm pretty much everywhere to penalize people's performance reviews for failure to perform required job tasks on time, I know of no employer that doesn't do that (or, at least, expect supervisor to do it.) It may not be normal to apply a systematic penalty of a preset value to failing this precise failing (from my experience in enterprise environments, the normal consequence for a wide range of required trainings is a nag email from HR or an HR-owned bot to the supervisor and/or employee with escalating urgency,and sometimes escalating up the org chart, until some point where more formal organizational penalties are imposed, which the supervisor may or may not also use as the basis for ad hoc penalties in performance reviews even if formal direct penalties aren't imposed because the delinquency is cleared before that point.)
> For another, it throws the objectivity of performance reviews in question
Having a defined, fixed, concrete Perf penalty for a particular violation does the opposite of calling objectivity of the rating system into question.
You've put a whole lot of effort into clarifying what it is I'm asking --- well done! I think you've nailed it! --- but you've come no closer to addressing the question I asked.
Regarding drama: again, given only the level of a peer, you don't know whether that's the product of work they've done, or some weird protest they're making against sexual harassment training. Which brings us back to the simple question I asked: why even allow for those weird protests?
I rather explicitly did that in my first response, where I both set out what I inferred you were really concerned about and responded (in a speculative manner) directly to that inferred concern.
EDIT: to be absolutely clear—
Inference: “What you probably don't understand is really why is the penalty not immediate termination, or termination after a certain period of delinquency”
Response: “and I suspect it actually is [termination after a period of delinquency], and the downgrade in internal rating is the immediate and automatic consequence of delinquency”
Maybe, but that wasn't my answer, except insofar as any answer that lacks complete certainty can be looked at as a form of “I don't know”.
The answer was, phrased an alternative way, “Most places take steps on delinquency in mandated training short of termination, often with varying potential to feed into performance assessments, with termination only as a (largely theoretical, because in practice it roughly never reaches that far) ultimate penalty; Google seems likely to be formalizing at least the immediate consequence of failure, not limiting the maximum consequence of persistent failure; other than the explicitness and implied automation, nothing particularly unusually seems to be going on here.)”
3 of the last 5 full-time jobs I've had were in health care. Which comes with at the very least HIPAA and, depending on the exact type of health stuff you do, possibly other training, every year in order to show compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
I've never been told "if you don't do the training we penalize your performance review". I have been told "if you don't do the training, you don't work here".
- We will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims
Ordinary harassment and assault is still covered by forced arbitration, as is systemic sexual harassment. Good to know.
- We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training
Everyone knows already that mandatory XY training serves to deflect liability from the company. If the previous instance wasn't good enough for its purpose, the new one will certainly be.
Why not just follow policy in the employee handbook? They usually have a section on harassment and appropiate conduct, and form part of the employment contract.
Gone are the days when a company just needed a box to tell a court that they checked. The public doesn't care about those boxes. The only way to manage the reputational risk of sexual harassment is to really try to prevent incidents. Good training can do that.
Good training does not just tell you what you cannot do, it explores hypotheticals and addresses headline topics that people are thinking about. It is educational not just proscriptive.
With sexual harassment the line is much sharper drawn. If someone hasn't learned how to behave civilly and not to exploit a power differential in their early 20s, no amount of training is going to help.
That might be true, but what's your evidence? I'm not trying to argue one way or another, I'd legitimately like to know if there's research on the effectiveness of sexual assault training in the workplace.
It gives you reason to be very pessimistic about consent training and society.
You can also make vague statements such as "there is no place for harassment at $COMPANY"; those statements were made earlier, and they were made today. But concrete steps like "making arbitration optional, instead of mandatory" is one of the things that engineers who participated in the Walkout had demanded. So it's certainly something substantive.
Now, there were some specific requests from the employees that were not honored, such as treating Temps and Contractors the same as Employees; legally that really can't be done except by hiring the Temps and Contractors and making them employees. I personally would invite other companies, such as (for example) Facebook and Apple to lead by hiring all of their cafeteria workers and stop using contracted labor. Maybe Google will lead by example, even if it impacts expenses, and therefore earnings, and therefore the Stock Price. But it's certainly within the power of other companies, like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, etc. to also lead by example.....
Wait, what? Is that Crickets that I'm hearing? :-)
That is the way things are today (mostly), but it doesn't follow that this one must necessarily be so. It might end up that way--time will tell--but the company is actually trying to avoid legal-checkbox training and to get something that actually makes a difference.
It was a comical waste of time, and the whole time you're there wondering how it could possibly change someone who already had no scruples. You're left bitter that you had to participate in a function that had no purpose beyond making some decision-maker feel like they were moving the needle on some issue.
Or does the US justice system work differently?
There is valid criticism that it prevents class action suits, but aside from that arbitration is better for everyone involved. Most people won't even bother to litigate a lawsuit due to the costs exceeding the relief sought, but arbitration is far more approachable.
However they take this "seriously" so I'm sure everything will be fine for Google employees.
Moving forward, there now is a penalty for skipping said training. More importantly, it applies for everyone, including Directors and VP's, not just individual contributors. And one point on Perf is a big deal; it's the difference between Significantly Exceeds Expectation and Exceeds Expectations (or Exceeds Expectations vs Meets Expectations), and this impacts salary increases, bonuses, and promotion.
I've been through several and found that no one really takes it seriously. If the things they tell you in sexual harassment training are new to you, you probably aren't going to learn your lesson. Problem employees aren't going to change their behavior. Enforcement of standards is much more critical.
Sexual harassment training is a CYA move by companies.
I literally could go on for an hour or so. If your sexual harassment training doesn't answer questions like this, then I highly recommend that you be proactive and get the training fixed. If you think the answers to these questions are obvious, then I think you will be surprised that a lot of people will have different opinions. What's important is know what opinion your company has!
Edit: I should point out, having worked in several different countries before, that these kinds of questions are very culturally charged.
Not ok here, but different in other places.
For example. George Clooney had to ask his wife out three times before she said yes. I believe Melinda Gates said no to Bill Gates the first time he asked her out (and of course, he was her boss). In Russian culture it's common for women to say no to a man even if she likes him, because making him work for it is thought to increase the eventual strength of the relationship (you don't value what you get for free, essentially). In fact a friend of mine is married to a Russian woman and she's said in the past she said yes to him too easily and regretted not rejecting him before - but he's told her, if she'd done that, he'd have immediately given up because he was quite burned out on dating at the time. So she sort of accepts it but has small regrets.
Just search on Google and you can find many examples of cases where men asked women out several times and are now married.
Never mix up feminists with women, they aren't the same. I've met plenty of women who wish men would chase them, but it's too risky for men to do that these days.
"Gee willikers Wally, shouldn't we fire people for missing the highly informative HR-mandated 'be polite' video?"
"Really? Gee, Willikers, why not?"
Anyway. These things have been a complete joke for a long time:
That's not the goal. If people don't know that slapping their colleagues' butt when drunk is wrong, online training is not going to help there.
Training is there so that when it comes time to arbitrate, they can point and say "Aha, we see you took the training, passed the quiz and you still did it, you can't claim you didn't know, you're gone buddy! buhbye" and they kick him out.
> Sexual harassment training is a CYA move by companies.
That is the right answer!
And so it should be abolished? I don't get your logic here. Shouldn't we be on the side of better training and more penalties for both employees and companies?
Perhaps you are comparing standard policy instruction with remedial instruction. I assume your statement "I've been through several" is only referring to the former.
If your manager keeps telling you, you have to do X, for a month and you simply refuse to do it, they'd be quite right to fire you.
We have this training. Along with privacy training, and lots of other trainings. You take the trainings that HR lays out. If you want to play a game of pick-and-choose, then you're shown the door.
What meaningful difference is there between representation OKRs and quotas?
Remember Wells Fargo and how their sales mandates lead to retail bankers opening up fraudulent accounts? Same concept. Don't demand anything specific, just demand that something be done and apply rewards and punishments appropriately.
eg in his Oct memo Sundar carefully pointed out that people at google on his watch have been fired for sexual harassment, and none of them got a package .
How does more diversity solve anything?
>Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns. We’ll give better support and care to the people who raise them
>We’re overhauling our reporting channels by bringing them together on one dedicated site and including live support. We will enhance the processes we use to handle concerns—including the ability for Googlers to be accompanied by a support person. And we will offer extra care and resources for Googlers during and after the process.
immediately set off my BS detector. whenever someone talks about meta-issues surrounding another issue without ever directly touching on the main issue itself, they're being evasive. the arbitration clause change is a good one. but the entire statement lacks any genuine taking of responsibility regarding the prior anti-employee practices. nor is there any "we're gonna try to stamp out sexual harassment".
notably, there is also no acknowledgement of other recent internal concerns, namely aiding governments in the oppression of their people (china and arguably others) and aiding governments in warfare (the US). while googlers have been shamefully complacent about getting their employers to drop these collaborations, the fact that it isn't even mentioned by pichai in a "please shut up and go back to work" letter is a bit sad.
in conclusion: googlers need to step on the gas WRT sexual harassment changes if they want anything beyond the modest changes announced in this letter and other social issues regarding the company must also be brought to the point of conflict internally.
More seriously, I think this is what happens when certain words or phrases become jargon terms - they're used to invoke a concept, and lose their literal meaning. Something similar is happening with "mental health", as in "we should be concerned about mental health", where "mental illness" would seem to be a more accurate term.
The jarring effect comes when people who use these terms frequently and for whom they have become jargon have to talk to everyone else, for whom the term carries its literal meaning. "Sexual harassment" and "financial crime" stand out because their literal meaning also carries a strong emotional charge for most people, whereas their jargon invocation doesn't.
I don't think it's happening to the term "mental health". Maybe it is being used as a superset of "mental illness" sometimes when talking about eg. homelessness, but most of the time it talks about the general psychological health of people. Eg "People in tech need to manage their mental health".
Wait, what? That's like saying "You're not concerned with employee health, you're concerned with whether employees are sick".
And there would be no shortage of wags on the Internet to point that out.
Whoever designed this, to silently mock his superior- i draw my hat.
The most recent one I did was actually useful (!!!!), probably because it was geared toward helping us employees/professors/etc actually know what to do when a student comes to you with a concern and how to intervene in bystander situations. It did explain the law. Far more useful were the scenarios: "Famous Prof is creeping on your grad student at a conference. Here are three options." "A student comes to talk about their poor performance on homework and ends up telling you they were assaulted at a party two weeks prior. Who do you talk to and who do you not talk to? What are the student's options?" "You fall madly in love with a student in your calculus class and the flame of your passion cannot be extinguished. While you are their TA/prof, what do you do?"
The bystander training and training on which resources to direct students or colleagues to, with instructions on how best to contact the offices, was good. The suggested wordings for responses were good. Often "good people" don't intervene because they don't know what to say or don't want to be awkward. Imagine you're a 22-year-old math grad student TAing for the first time -- maybe you've only been in the state or country 2 weeks -- and a student tells you about a rape during the parties first week of the semester. How're you supposed to deal with that with no training?
It's the only good training I've ever experienced, actually.
Generally I've seen they use the "stoplight" model, in that some behaviors are "green", near universally accepted as non-harassing, some are "red", near universally rejected as harassing, and some are "yellow" meaning individuals vary. "Red" behaviors should get you fired immediately, while "yellow" often puts some burden on the offended party to speak up about it, and it only becomes harassment if it continues.
Google's training when I took it a decade ago focused almost exclusively on the yellow/gray area and was pretty interesting because of it. Other trainings I've suffered through focused on the red zone which felt obvious, awkward, and dull.
I have to admit I have never been in the US. So, what is the right answer for the second question?
I suppose it should be mandatory for all, but in the same time I have read too many stories about "classes to teach men to not rape" that I am in doubts.
It's usually just some slides or a video you click through, and most people try to fast forward or skip as much as the software allows. That's actually how all corporate training works.
It's not confusion so much as incredulity that this would seem disturbing to someone, especially considering it is so common that a major state mandates it for some employees. California is an example that mandatory sexual harassment training is common.
I honestly dont mind the idea of taking any of this training, but I loathe the fact that I'm prevented from completing it at a pace I'm able.
The purpose of it is usually not educating people, but providing a liability shield. Juries don't look kindly when Billy was harassed by his manager, and Billy's employer couldn't even be arsed to put Billy through a two-hour course, that spells out why harassment is a bad idea.
On the other hand, if Billy's manager did go through this training, and harassed Billy, then the company can blame everything on the manager.
Because it is the most common way for an idiot to open up the company to hundreds of thousands of dollars of liability.
Because it is the only concern that is a constant, regardless of which industry you work with.
When you're in the medical industry, managers have to take medical compliance training. When you're in the financial industry, managers have to take financial compliance training. When you're in the automotive industry, managers have to take OSHA compliance training.
But in all of those industries, there is one common element. Managers have reports. Reports that can sue the company, if their manager engages in harassment, or allows another employee, customer, or contractor to harass them.
Also, recognizing that a quid pro quo relationship is inappropriate at work = also feminism.
Have you considered that work is for people to go to, so that they can do their ing jobs?
Actually reducing sexual harassment or other negative behavior takes a deep change in a company's attitude and culture. You can't get it from a 1 hour seminar conducted by some HR drone.
Here in the UK, you go to an independent mechanic, maybe somewhere in the workshop they have a calendar with pictures of topless women.
I find it sounds disturbing as well, never heard of such thing before.
On the other hand, you go to a national chain, the calendar has a message about the importance of embracing teamwork.
Sexual harassment training purports to transform organisations that behave like the first one into organisations that behave like the second one. How much of the difference in behaviour is a consequence of the training and how much from other factors is obviously difficult to measure.
It's usually an incredibly boring hour-long-or-so presentation employers expect everyone to go through somewhere around annually. It discusses inappropriate behaviors like quid-pro-quo, retaliation, inappropriate comments towards other employees, etc.
The general assumption behind it is that some people may not know their behavior is appropriate, and presumably, to remove the "I didn't know that wasn't okay" defense on any future violations. Of course, the issue is everyone knows that things like what Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer did aren't okay, but they still happen anyways.
I don't feel I benefit from it in any way after the unteenth time I've been through them, but if an employer pays me to be there, it's on their dime. The college I go to also tries to require a sexual harassment training thing, and I have declined to participate since I pay them to be there, not the other way around, and the dean's office has admitted to me in an email that the "required" training is "not mandatory".
I follow a simple rule, and so far, I haven't done anything stupid: "If you think it would make someone personally uncomfortable when you say it, consider not saying it".
That poor woman, still being victimized by that creepy sexual predator to this day. We should try to save her.
It can be, if it is done poorly. In fact, if it's done really poorly, it can look like it was carefully designed to cause a differentially hostile workplace environment based on sex, such as when every single example or reference to a victim or potential victim specifies a female worker or uses feminine pronouns, and every perpetrator or potential perpetrator in an example or description is male. (Which happened in the first such training I attended, in 1999.)
> Anybody can comment in detail how it is conducted?
It varies. A lot. Even as to whether it is mandatory sexual harassment training or mandatory harassment training that includes sexual harassment as a component.
> Is it really mandatory for everyone or only for men?
Where it is mandatory, it is usuually mandatory for everyonein the workplace, though there is often additional training for supervisory personnel over and above what everyone else is required to take.
I'm not sure how much it actually helps prevent sexual harassment though - most sexual harassers are just jerks (i.e. not people who don't know better and would stop if only they had been through sexual harassment training).
If it's anything like everywhere I've ever worked, it's mandatory for everybody, and they go out of their way to pretend their not just talking to the men about the women, but it's actually twice as uncomfortable because all of the women - for whom this training is actually for - are sitting next to the men, for whom the training is actually targeted. So you sit through an hour of uncomfortable filterspeak that would make the 80's Soviet Kremlin cringe.
The chief diversity officer will "continue" to report to the leadership team, rather than being promoted. No mention of the employee representative on the board, either. Pichai states they'll add detail to their sexual harassment report, but doesn't commit to release it publicly, as demanded. Google also didn't address pay inequality, likely because doing so would require admitting they've been lying to the Department of Labor by claiming there is none.
But there's an end to forced arbitration, we'll see if that's enough for the walkout crowd. I kinda doubt it.
Meanwhile, the Department of Labor says there is "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce" and that "received compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters".
A fifth of Google's entire workforce (20,000 people!) walked out, in part, because of that systemic mistreatment of women, and demanded Google fix the pay gap.
The Department of Labor and 20,000 employees who say there's a pay gap. I believe them. Google says there isn't one. I do not believe Google is run by people too incompetent to notice a "systemic" pay gap. Therefore, yes, I believe they are lying.
Can someone who knows better than me explain whether this is actually a reasonable request? It sounded ridiculous to me but I admit I am not knowledgeable in these matters.
Obviously, this hasn't destroyed Germany's economy, so it's doubtful it would hurt Google's profits much either.
> Obviously, this hasn't destroyed Germany's economy, so it's doubtful it would hurt Google's profits much either.
You can't say the Germany economy wouldn't be better off without this regulation.
> Why do shareholders get board seats?
Because they don't trust company leadership to do the right thing, without any oversight.
Leadership is currently asking employees to trust that leadership will do the right thing, without any oversight.
This is, obviously, an unreasonable expectation. Even if employees trust current leadership, what assurances do they have that Sundar's successor will do the right thing?
An employee representative on the board is the only way to ensure that leadership will do the right thing. Corporate America has figured out this accountability thing over a century ago.
Actually giving people a voice and representation is good and won't hurt
Employees have extraordinary power - especially if they work together to use it.
Personally I think its sensible to have some accountability to your employees, not just your shareholders.
How about a subordinate relationship ban? This policy prohibiting relationships already occur for between doctor and patient, teacher and student. Even the recent police and detained people sex ban? 
If I was a protester, I would ask Google execs how these policies will tackle the abuse of power for sexual activity.
Or just separate men from women. It works in the middle east