Much has been said and written about the Google fiasco; so much so that despite me initially deciding to not jump onto the bandwagon, I’ve now changed my mind. I’ve changed my mind because the internet has run amok with views on every aspect of what happened – David Brooks called for the resignation of Sundar Pichai, every HR blog came up with their own classic view and my fellow Twitter activists set up polls to gather an opinion on if James Damore should have been fired.
Yet no matter how many articles I skim, so few talk about how Damore could have a valid point. I do not necessarily disagree with the content of the memo; I do disagree with the approach of putting it up for discussion. He knew it was likely that he be fired (the first page talks about it). Yet, any smart person would see that the quickest way to have a global debate on the issue of diversity and related output metrics would be to do as Damore did. I do not want the discussion to focus on if he should have been fired. I want the debate to be on this:
- Is an output goal of 50% women employees going to make the organization a better place for its inhabitants? Why the magic number of 50? Why not 45? 55? 65? Who came up with the magic number that will solve the problem of gender diversity?
- Are we going about this the right way? If 50% is the output goal, what are the input goals? How exactly are we making this magic happen?
- How are you ensuring that in the bargain, the selection is purely on merit – That no man loses the race just because he is a man and that organizations are OK with slightly under-qualified women since there are numbers to be met?
- Are you communicating your approach to the organization and candidates so that they believe the process is fair?
- Lastly, have you done your homework to check if this goal is achievable given the circumstances in the time frame that you’ve set down?
Every organization, geography and culture is unique. Don’t adopt goals just because everyone else is and it’s cool to do so. Yes, gender diversity is important and we need to get there, but there are many ways of getting to the destination. Don’t choose the wrong path. It will set an example for all future diversity initiatives.
Tell me, would you take on a goal of 50% differently abled people/Asians/Hispanics in your organization? Why not?
P.S: For those who’ve not read the memo in full, I’d recommend you read it and form your opinion on the memo vs what the media has been saying.