OAKLAND, Calif., Nov 18 (Reuters) – Google this week introduced rules for determining when someone should be invited to its offices, days after it canceled a talk by an Indian historian who has disparaged marginalized groups and their concerns. According to emails reviewed by Reuters, they publicly stated the new rule with this reason: “we strive to create an environment where all employees can bring their whole selves to work.”
Google is making it easier for employees to preserve their culture as they work together. Their recent announcement included changes in policies and support infrastructure that will help employees at every stage of the company’s growth.
A wave of activism has led to strikes and protests at big tech companies over politics and racial and gender equity, among other issues. Alphabet, Apple Inc., Amazon Inc., and other companies are all facing unionization drives which have demands for these companies to adopt progressive policies.
On the subject of speaking at conferences, Reuters is reporting that Google discourages events with certain speakers and asks its employees to be mindful if such talks directly support the company.
One of the guidelines for Google‘s upcoming Fireside Chats focuses on avoiding topics that could be “disruptive or undermine Google’s culture of belonging.” In addition, speakers have been banned from advocating for political candidates and ballot measures.
“We’ve always been proud to host external speakers at Google,” according to a Google spokesman. “These opportunities are valuable and provide insight into the world of education,” he continued on. The updated process ensures that the events are useful, in addition to creating an environment where work is productive.
A new email that a company’s managers received states that its intention is to unify and clarify a patchwork of guidelines.
With more scrutiny comes new responsibilities. Google needs to consider a diverse workforce if they want an environment of productivity and creativity that can help them develop products that are appealing to more people.
Employees using their work email for personal messaging can lead to excessive use of company time and resources. Our recent changes show significant steps we’re taking to limit this type of conduct, which benefits both the employees and the business.
Nowadays there are plenty of platforms that allow you to find speakers, such as Meta Platforms Inc (META.O).
At Google, speakers have included then-US presidential candidate Barack Obama, celebrity chef Ayesha Curry and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
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When debates over speakers became heated, Google canceled a talk on India’s socioreligious caste system by author Thenmozhi Soundararajan because of the internal dissent.
Sri Soundararajan, the Southern California woman whose rhetoric is described as inflammatory, has been accused of being bigoted.
It would be great if we invited Rajiv Malhotra to our next event, according to an internal message. Malhotra is a tech entrepreneur turned self-described contrarian author who has labeled activists such as Soundararajan as “snakes” and criticized affirmative action policies that promote lower caste groups.
The Hindu group at Google eventually scheduled Malhotra to speak about India’s positive global influence and an invitation was sent. But the talk was canceled Nov. 10 when organizers canceled, according to a follow-up announcement.
Some workers complained to their managers about Malhotra according to a message soliciting complaints. A linked document organized by Alphabet Workers Union, a labor organization that has been petitioning Google to name castes in its non-discrimination policies, noted that Malhotra had described homosexuality as a medical condition and Islam as a destructive force.
Malhotra supports marginalized communities, but he doesn’t support “politicizing of bias in ways that divide societies and make them vulnerable to foreign colonization.”
Allowing his speech after canceling Soundararajan’s would have been inconsistent. That was the opinion of a small group of employees that exchanged messages between one another before the email went out.
The new speaker policy states that prospective speakers “must submit a proposal and have it approved” by a “cross-functional” review team. Requests for speaking opportunities are due at least 12 weeks before an event.
“Await a response before making contact with the speaker and/or their representative,” the policy says. “Failure to follow this process is a violation of Google policies.”