Anti-Sundar Pichai Graffitti Appears Near Google Offices, New York Times Says He Should Resign

The repercussions of Google’s firing of James Damore are spilling over into the real world.

Graffiti slamming Google CEO Sundar Pichai has begun appearing in California. Posters comparing Pichai unfavourably to Steve Jobs were posted on bus stops near Google’s offices in Venice Beach. The posters played on Apple’s “Think Different” tagline — as Steve Jobs was portrayed as saying “Think different”, Pichai was shown as solemnly saying “Not so much”.

A bench was also plastered with the word “Goolag”, a play on Gulag, which were Russian slave labour camps during Stalin’s rule. “Search for diversity of thought somewhere else” was written in Google’s iconic search bar.

Another poster saying “Think Different – Get Fired” around the Google logo was discovered.

Google has been criticized for firing James Damore, an engineer who’d written a 10-page memo questioning Google’s diversity pracitices. Damore had argued that the higher proportion of men in engineering and leadership positions at Google were a result of broad biological and cultural differences, and Google’s diversity programs, which prioritized hiring women and people of colour were bad for business. Damore had said that Google’s monolithic corporate culture didn’t allow such for thoughts to be aired, and said Google operated in an echo chamber.

Google had gone ahead and fired Damore, with Pichai saying that “to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not O.K.”

Pichai’s statement hasn’t gone down with academics, who’ve said there was nothing in the memo which suggested that Damore had said that women were less biologically suited for tech jobs. “For what it’s worth, I think that almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate,” said Geoffrey Miller, a prominent evolutionary psychologist.

The New York Times went a step futher, with an opinion article titled “Sundar Pichai should resign.” The article called Sundar Pichai’s characterization of the memo “blatantly dishonest.” “Either Pichai is unprepared to understand the research (unlikely), is not capable of handling complex data flows (a bad trait in a C.E.O.) or was simply too afraid to stand up to a mob,” it said. “Regardless which weakness applies, this episode suggests he should seek a nonleadership position.”

Large Numbers Of Google Employees Support Damore

Damore also appears to have broad support within Google. While employees are hesitant to openly support his views, several anonymous surveys have suggested that large numbers of Googlers are opposed to his firing. 

An internal Google survey, which was leaked to the media, suggested that 36% of Googlers agreed more or less with Damore’s memo. 

In addition, as many as 56% of Googlers were opposed to the firing of Damore in a survey on Blind, which is an app which only allows people with official company emails to register. 441 verified Google employees had participated in the survey.

Googlers have also been anonymously contributing to Damore’s  fundraiser. “Fellow googler. James is a hero for speaking out. I’ve felt the same way many times but I’m afraid of retaliation so keep quiet. Thanks!,” said an anonymous donor while contributing $1,500 (Rs. 1 lakh). Yet another person donated $1000 saying “James, thanks for helping restoring the old Google we love. Open, tolerant, diverse, curious, daring, honest, fair, innovating.”

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With the media calling for his removal, and large portions of his employees against his decision to fire Damore, Sundar Pichai might be facing the sternest test of his two-year stint as Google CEO.