Once upon a time, I was 28 and dumb. But I was never as dumb as author James Damore who wrote a 3,200 word manifesto saying the reason why women and some minorities aren’t more represented at his firm is due to biological differences. That’s just offensive to the women and minorities who made it to Google.
Overall, Google’s workforce is 69% male, 31% female. However, when it comes to technical positions, just 20% of the jobs are filled by women. 56% of the workforce is White, 35% Asian, 4% Hispanic, 2% Black, 4% bi-racial, and less than 1% Other.
After a decade of trying to become more diverse, Google is clearly has not done a great job since African Americans represent roughly 12.4% and Hispanics about 17% of US the population. Interestingly, when it comes to diversity, Asian Americans don’t seem to count for some reason, even though they are an even smaller minority at only 6% of the US population.
Given Damore is now unemployed and facing potential financial difficulties (if he doesn’t win his lawsuit), I wanted to discuss some important lessons everybody who depends on a job to survive should think about. This is a site about financial freedom after all.
Lessons Learned From The Google Manifesto Fiasco
1) If you are not financially independent, never offend anybody. Something must have really bothered James to spend hours writing his manifesto. I’m guessing he was ticked off because he was passed over for a raise or promotion, and found it unfair that Google has career help programs specifically for underrepresented groups of people.
Welcome to the real world, where even working at one of the most prestigious organizations can make you unsatisfied. Even though you’ve already won the job lottery (0.2% acceptance rate), you curiously think the system is stacked against you.
Check your bank account. Do you have at least a couple years of living expenses locked away? If not, then keep quiet. Check your net worth tracking account. Does it at least equal 20X your gross annual income? If not, then shut up. Check your passive income streams. Can they cover all your living expenses? If not, then what the hell are you doing trying to piss off your managers and peers?!
Performance is only 50% of the way to get ahead at a large organization. The other 50% is developing a large support network who will fight for you at every rung of the ladder. Ostracizing 30% of your peer group when you need a consensus to ascend is a career limiting move.
2) Conform or perish. Before joining a company, you need to have a thorough understanding of the company’s culture and ideology. Every large tech company in the SF Bay Area like Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Airnbnb and Apple has a left-leaning ideology. Therefore, after accepting a job offer, it’s unwise to come out against your company’s ideology.
Damore writes, “When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.”
That’s just the way it is James. If you decide to parlay your Harvard Master’s degree in Systems Biology to become a software engineer at a company you don’t respect for the sake of money and prestige, then that’s on you. Find a company that has the ideology you believe in.
No student is going to the University of Michigan to wear Ohio State sweaters to class. No person expects to live long if they continuously overeat. No financial freedom seeker expects to be rich without investing. Be congruent in your thoughts and actions.
3) Women have a powerful voice in the media. If you write about anything that may be construed as anti-women, you are putting your career and reputation in peril. The vast majority of people who have written about the Google Manifesto fiasco are women. Here’s a list of organizations that wrote about the subject and their authors:
NBC News – Alyssa Newcomb, Jo Ling Kent
Fortune – Ellen McGirt
Gizmod0 Kate Congert
Quartz – Gwynn Guilford
Wired – Nitasha Tiku
Inc. – Suzanne Lucas
Motherboard Vice – Louise Matsakis
Recode – Kara Swisher
Pando – Sarah Lacy
In many large organizations, women are well-represented in diversity leadership positions and HR roles. Don’t make enemies with the very people who can decide your fate. If you are a heterosexual male who was constantly rejected by women growing up because you were a super nerd, instead of being angry, work on your communication skills instead.
4) Lack of diversity is not hard fought across job functions. Someone on the Twitter echo chamber brought up a good point, “Nobody fights about lack of diversity in modest paying jobs.” So true if you think about different industries with a disproportionate number of men or women. For example, I don’t recall seeing any outrage about the lack of men teaching K – 12 even though women make up ~75% of all teachers. Maybe I just missed it.
Teaching is one of the most important occupations in the world. Why aren’t more equal rights advocates up in arms about the lack of equality? The simple and sad reason is because the median pay for an elementary teacher is only about $40,000 compared to a software engineer who can easily make $200,000+ in salary and stock.
Society is so wrapped up in money and prestige that they conveniently forget there is inequality everywhere, not just at famous companies which pay handsome salaries. If you choose to fight for equality, try to fight for equality for everyone. The people who make less probably need more help.
After the teaching industry, let’s look for more racial representation in the NBA. I’d love to see at least 6% of the players be Asian. Basketball is huge in Asia and amongst Asian people in America. With over 4 billion Asian people in the world (more than half), more Asians in the NBA would be great for business.
5) Employment is at-will. Unlike countries like France or Japan, where getting fired is unheard of, employees have little protection here in the United States. Allowing companies to fire employees for whatever reason is part of why we’re the leaders in innovation. America is a cut throat society that thrives on capitalism.
See what the Supreme Court of California has to say about at-will employment.
“An employer may terminate its employees at will, for any or no reason … the employer may act peremptorily, arbitrarily, or inconsistently, without providing specific protections such as prior warning, fair procedures, objective evaluation, or preferential reassignment … The mere existence of an employment relationship affords no expectation, protectable by law, that employment will continue, or will end only on certain conditions, unless the parties have actually adopted such terms.”
As soon as you become mindful that you can be fired at any time, you’ll be more willing to assimilate into the Borg. Make no mistake. If you do not moonlight or build alternative income streams, you’ve chosen to put your entire livelihood in the hands of an organization.
6) Go Small Or Go On Your Own. If by now you’re upset about having to conform to groupthink, then leave and join a much smaller company or become an entrepreneur. Large companies naturally become more bureaucratic because they employ a larger representation of the American people (except for Google and many of the other tech companies per their diversity reports). One of the biggest fears every company has is getting sued for discrimination. Therefore, a tremendous effort is made to ensure proper systems are in place to make sure everybody gets along (except for at Uber).
As an entrepreneur for the past five years with only my wife to report to, I’ve found making work decisions to be 10X faster than when I worked at a firm with tens of thousands of people. We work with online contractors we’ve never met before e.g. our system administrator. We’ve had business meetings with hundreds of different men and women from all races and backgrounds. Not once did a person’s sex or race come into consideration for working together. It always came down to whether the product was a natural fit for my writing or whether the person was competent to produce good work.
You should not turn into a cancer that negatively affects everyone you’re working with. Someone else will happily take your place if you don’t want it. After getting a terrible bonus despite strong performance, I decided to engineer my layoff instead of complain. I believed in myself more than my company believed in me.
Either take the money and stop biting the hand that feeds you or move on.
If You Need Money, Proceed With Caution
Life is already hard enough as it is. Don’t make things harder on yourself by blowing up your career if you aren’t already rich. It’s OK to speak your unfiltered mind if you are OK with the consequences. Just know that whatever you write will last forever on the internet. Pick up the phone or meet someone face-to-face if you want to insult them. But before you do, learn some self-defense!
Readers, did you read the Google Manifesto? If so, what do you think? Why don’t more people fight for equality in modest or lower paying jobs? Has society become so infatuated with the top 1% that they’ve ignored the plight of everyone else? Why do people who don’t have FU money like to make life harder on themselves?