Google’s self-inflicted wounds

A reader sends me this story:

A Google executive has left the company with no severance after he was accused of sexually harassing a young female job applicant by inviting her to Burning Man and asking her to take of her shirt for a massage.

Google parent Alphabet confirmed on Wednesday that Rich DeVaul had left the company as tensions heightened over how they handle such matters of sexual harassment allegations.

He was accused of telling a young female hardware engineer during her job interview that he and his wife were ‘polyamorous’.

DeVaul invited the woman to visit the Burning Man festival with him the week after her interview. The woman said she took her mother along because she thought it was an opportunity to speak about the role.

She claims DeVaul asked her to take off her shirt for a back rub when they were at the festival. She refused initially but agreed to a neck rub after DeVaul kept insisting.

Polyamory? Burning Man? Strange, because he doesn’t look the ty…oh, wait:

Of the group of people who inspired my book, which loyal readers will know is in part about a polyamorous community for whom Burning Man was an annual pilgrimage, the men were overwhelmingly working in IT. During my research, the ever-reliable Daniel Ream pointed out that while not every bloke working in IT is a deviant, the sort of people who are into polyamory will gravitate towards IT. The degenerate in the photo above is a walking polyamorous Burning Man stereotype. While I don’t wish to engage in victim-blaming, I find myself asking what sort of woman would go to Burning Man with this guy having been propositioned in an interview, and bring her mother along?

The woman said she took her mother along because she thought it was an opportunity to speak about the role.

Do IT people usually involve their mothers when invited to speak about a professional role? And that her mother was willing to go to Burning Man at all, let alone in those circumstances, says rather a lot about the family.

And this brings me onto my wider point. Regular readers of my blog will hardly be surprised that an ultra-woke polyamorous man with green hair turns out to be a rampant sex-pest. If he hasn’t spent the past decade identifying as a male feminist, I’d be amazed. Yet these are the sort of people Google actively recruits and promotes, based on their adherence to the ever-evolving SJW scripture, while firing anyone who commits heresy. The world’s largest tech company has made a point of hiring people with severe mental issues who parrot the correct political mantra, and has absolutely no idea what to do about the inevitable result. Here, via Tim Almond, is the BBC:

Staff at Google offices around the world have staged an unprecedented series of walkouts in protest at the company’s treatment of women.

The employees are demanding several key changes in how sexual misconduct allegations are dealt with at the firm, including a call to end forced arbitration – a move which would make it possible for victims to sue.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has told staff he supports their right to take the action.

“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” he said in an all-staff email. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society… and, yes, here at Google, too.”

Like some medieval religious cult, the self-flagellating priests think the problem is they’ve not flagellated themselves enough. By hand-wringing, pandering to extremists, and recruiting the mentally unstable they’ve fostered an environment where major HR issues are inevitable. But because they’re so far up their own backsides, they can no longer identify the problem, let alone solve it. That’s why they have to pretend this problem of green-haired polyamorous managers taking interviewees and their mothers to Burning Man exists everywhere.

Staff involved in Thursday’s walkout left notes on their desks telling colleagues: “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone.”

These are not the actions of functioning adults. And besides, the managers are drawn from the ranks of people who are exactly like those walking out. Even if Google fired every manager tomorrow, they’ll be replaced by dysfunctional millennials who will act in exactly the same way. These people were recruited as perfect fits for the corporate culture they are now protesting.

They have also made formal demands to Google’s management. They are:

A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality

A commitment to end things which by any objective measure don’t exist. Things haven’t got off to a good start, have they?

A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report

This will read like the product of an algorithm taking stock phrases from The Huffington Post while mixing in a few generic “corporate values” available from any good PR agency.

A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously

This almost certainly exists: the trouble is, Google recruits psychopaths and promotes them as managers, who are then given control over said process.

The elevation of the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO, and make recommendations directly to the board of directors

So diversity will become separated from HR? How’s that going to work? And what’s diversity got to do with sexual harassment?

The appointment of an employee representative to the board

Didn’t these used to be called unions? It’s going to be interesting to see what a unionised workforce thinks of Silicon Valley’s hiring practices.

An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees

With forced arbitration being:

Forced arbitration, a common contract clause for Silicon Valley workers, demands any disputes are dealt with internally rather than through other methods such as the courts.

I’d have thought this amounted to a denial of one’s statutory rights, but given it’s California I suppose anything is possible. What is amusing is we had the YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki publicly denouncing James Damore for wrongthink and Google CFO Ruth Porat weeping over the election of Donald Trump, all the while presiding over employment contracts which would look familiar to a 19th century Kentuckian mine worker.

Rather than ratcheting up the self-flagellation to levels not seen outside extremist cults, Google needs to get a grip by firing the bulk of its senior management and replacing them with sensible people who put in place policies which make the firm more like a serious corporation than a playground, thus changing the culture to one in which sane adults flourish while the mentally ill and perpetually aggrieved don’t get through the main gate. Their complete drip of a CEO can start this process by resigning on the spot.

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31 thoughts on “Google’s self-inflicted wounds

  1. “The woman said she took her mother along because she thought it was an opportunity to speak about the role.”

    In the mid ’90s a European mobile operator asked me to have a look at one of their mobile networks in India. I ended up staying for a while and on one occasion was asked to sit in on some interviews for radio planning engineers.

    One applicant came in with his father, or more accurately the father brought the applicant in to the room. The father then proceeded to answer all our questions on his son’s behalf, most of the answers just being what a good boy his son was and we should be proud to employ him. I’d like to say it was bizarre, but I’d done quite a bit of work in India by then so very little phased me.

  2. That isn’t what arbitration means.

    Arbitration means that rather than go to court (public process so chance to try and get some PR to use as leverage in the legal process and shake out a settlement, risk of random juries, and higher costs) instead you go to an independent professional arbitrator (private process, usually sensible commercial arbitrators ruling, costs are more reasonable).

    Lots of big money commercial disputes go to arbitration as it produces commercially sensible results. If you are a somewhat unorthodox claim then you might prefer to be in the public courts.

  3. Google is earning far too much money. Antics like this, gigantic diversity programs, etc are obvious markers that the senior management are able to take their eye off the main reason they are there, to make money for the company, and indulge in this nonsense.

    With luck Google will destroy itself, but the chances are remote.

  4. Perhaps this is the end, of the beginning of the end, of Google (no, that is not a typo!).

    I wonder how long it can function (make money, AND be useful) given it’s starting to eat itself.

    *edit* oh, I see Rob was saying similar to this as I was pondering / typing.

    Good. I’ve started trying to de-google myself. I gather duckduckgo is a decent search engine alternative so am trying that out this week. Next step: decent browser.

  5. Yup

    Gone Duckduckgo too. Working fine. Got it on my phone and as preferred search engine on Safari on my Macbook.

    No data retained.

    Spread the word

  6. I don’t have any money invested in Google, but if I did I’s be starting to get a tad concerned.

    “Going short” OTOH…?

  7. I’m beginning to wonder if our kind host hasn’t got some connection to the other world and they/him/she/it are passing him tips, ‘cos he seems to be hitting nails on the head a fair amount of the time!

  8. “Good. I’ve started trying to de-google myself. I gather duckduckgo is a decent search engine alternative so am trying that out this week. Next step: decent browser”

    I moved on to Brave some time ago. They had some teething problems but its quite stable now. The main advantage is the built in ad blocker, fingerprint protection and easy cookie control. Its easy to let ads through for individual sites. It also works on iKit.

    Duckduckgo is the default search engine and its OK, but I occasionally find I need to do a Google search*. I also need to find a replacement for Google maps, which is a good service and so far I’ve not found anything that matches it.

    *I see Google as the best of the rest even though I have to compromise. I hate Yahoo and have never liked Microsoft’s attempts.

  9. Weird weird things have happened to IT over the last 10 years. A decade ago you could walk into any IT department and pretty much know the type of person you were about to meet. They were 90% male , a mixture of racial backgrounds but with one thing in common they had all learned the basics of programming as a hobby in their teenage years then developed that into a career. Politics was rarely discussed although they were usually broadly libertarian ,films/TV weren’t talked about a lot in free time but hobbies were , usually these were running, cycling, photography , electronics but also computers were also a hobby as well as a job.

    But slowly at first a different type of person started to appear. I suspect it was due to the stories of what a good career IT was and the money that could be earned started to attract people who wouldn’t even have considered it. They are usually geeky but that doesn’t always equal being a technical person. They seem to have learned “coding” at Uni or even worse at a “Boot Camp” which Mummy + Dad paid for them to go to after getting a degree in Linguistics and finding themselves unemployable. Put a few of them together in a room and with no technical skills as such they seem determined to prove their geekery with discussions of super hero films (sorry movies) and similar.

    Incidentally use of the word “coding” is the give away. If you have an applicant for a technical post who uses that word then punch them in face and move on. A candidate you want will have started to learn C++ in their teenage years will call it programming.

    My brother in law works in a University where they have a section which does nothing but write custom programs for use in house. It used to be 9 guys + a single woman and all worked OK. Then a few years back they brought in their first “coder”. He turned out not to be able program so was given a make work task as a tester. He somehow got his mates jobs there though so soon you had a few very public gays , some blue haired girls and assorted oddments (some of whom were in a poly relationship). The common factor was that none of them could actually program anything. Instead the testing department got bigger , you had project managers and even an “agile coach”. Most of the old guard saw the way things were going and left by various means. So now the section consists of 40 odd people but according to the BIL bugger all programs are written. Instead they project manage each other , go to conferences and send endless Tweets about what a diverse inclusive workplace they have. The complete lack of output doesn’t matter as this is the public sector.

  10. “A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously”

    This will also be a problem because nutters exist on both ends of any supposed transaction. How many score-settlers and attention-seekers or plain old gold-digging female pychopaths will take advantage of anonymous denunciations.

  11. The elevation of the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO, and make recommendations directly to the board of directors…

    Something tells me the document listing these “formal demands” passed through the chief diversity officer’s hands before it reached management

  12. Started de-Googling myself a few months ago. Brave is a good browser now. DuckDuckGo has some way to go as a search engine, but Bing is much improved.

    Also trying not to use Amazon so much – for books I find Wordery better than Amazon – but they just cover so much.

  13. I think the technical term for this is “Bozo Explosion”

    It was coined be Steve Jobs. “A” performers hire other As or A+. Bs hire Cs, Cs hire Ds and so on and so forth and in no time you have a bozo explosion on your hands.

    The lavender mafia in the Catholic Church is like that as well. Hire the first homo deviant, then they hire more and so on and so forth…Like in EdgeManager’s post.

  14. These stupid and infantile types never cease to drop my jaw.

    They don’t appear to apply even the most basic and first lessons one should learn when they start work. To wit; “Never shit where you eat”. Meaning, no good comes from dating, or having sex with a co-worker. More than likely, one will lose their job, probably you. That wasn’t told to me by my dad, but a series of more senior techs, mentors, when I started working. Seeing it in action, and the inevitable drama only reinforced it’s veracity.

    Second big lesson- It’s none of your business. Aren’t these adults? So they are screwing each other. So what? Does that materially effect you? If it does, quit. She’s being placed as your boss because she’s servicing the big guy? quit. I once worked at a company where my boss screwed the EVP/owner’s fiance. He was summarily fired, and she quit. So what? Teh guys were planning a walkout. I told the head guy – not my boss by any means, I’m behind them 100%, but I’m not walking. What they did was none of my business. I didn’t give a shit whatsoever, and wasn’t going to leave a job I needed over that drama. My attitude didn’t go unnoticed by the owners. And I took a lot of heat from the rank and file, especially when I warned new guys, telling them the sad tale and to stay out of it. As well as not to socialize with that crowd. Nothing good comes from it.

    So somewhere in your huge corporation, someone is fcking someone else? Let’s rend garments and virtue signal by walking out. Time was if you didn’t respect the company you work for, you’d simply go to one you do. Quit. Stop being an infant having a tantrum and quit.

    Lastly, you took your mom to burning man, a festival of partying, drugs, and free and open sex with your new boss to talk about your role? Sweet jesus. Your role is apparently a spooge receptacle. You want your mother to see that?

    And now you’re suing, so everyone can bask in your idiocy?

    Stugatz!

  15. employment contracts which would look familiar to a 19th century Kentuckian mine worker

    LOL. Yeah, these poor highly paid, high-status wretches and their playground work environment. I mean, their salaries are $200K/year, but they’re paid in Android app store credits!

    Blue haired polyamourist middle managers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your ethically-sourced sustainable chains!

  16. Ever get the feeling that a significant number of employees of these big tech firms see it as an extension of university but paid?

    That the company is effectively in loco parentis like US universities are (but UK ones are not)?

    So you’ve got US uni silliness spilling out into the workplace.

  17. Weird weird things have happened to IT over the last 10 years […] If you have an applicant for a technical post who uses that word then punch them in face and move on. A candidate you want will have started to learn C++ in their teenage years will call it programming.

    Stoll’s Syndrome is a terrible affliction. If you seek help before it reaches the terminal stage, you may be able to recover.

    Ever get the feeling that a significant number of employees of these big tech firms see it as an extension of university but paid?

    That’s entirely deliberate, but it’s deliberate on the part of the employers. Microsoft first and later Google pursued a deliberate policy of making their work environment similar to the university environments they were hiring straight out of – dorm-like apartments on the corporate compound, overnight coding jags expected but never explicitly required, employee cafeterias, etc. Thye did this because it got them tons of extra man-hours out of their genius talent who were used to the grind but hadn’t made the mental transition to the real world (Microsoft, in particular, used to hire a lot of Laszlos).

  18. @EdgeManager on November 5, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    They were 90% male, a mixture of racial backgrounds but with one thing in common – they all wore grubby black T-Shirts

    😛

  19. So, I’m reading the linked story and I can see no point where he sexually harassed anyone.

    I mean, asked ‘someone to Burning Man and for her to take off her shirt’? That’s supposed to be harrassing?

    Telling someone you’re polyamorous? That’s harrassing? TMI maybe, but not harrassment. Even if you do it every day. Then its just annoying.

  20. Leftists are living difficult times: they have to reconcile the new puritanism of #MeToo and Feminism with the primary reason why many men found the ’68 revolution so electrifying: sexual “liberation”.
    Oh my, where have the good times gone? Once upon a time you could go around trying to sleep with as many girls as possible, while maintaining you were fighting against the Man, for the sake of humanity.
    After, was not the slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”?

  21. What’s amazing to me is how fast leftist radical institution and innovations unravel in the worst possible way. That happens regularly: you don’t have to wait decades for the Russian revolution to become a nightmare, and the same happened everywhere: from China to Venezuela.
    Truly a universal achievement.
    Similarly amazing is the left’s refusal to admit they are going against some natural or structural reality. It seems that, since they paid so much and spent so much in order to get educated, now they pretend to have the right to be right.
    Sadly, the most predictable fruit of their higher education is that they will rationalize the failure as yet a deeper fault in the “system” they are fighting against. Aristotle was right to say that sophists are the worst and must be mocked and exposed incessantly; of course, the academic attempts to reevaluate sophistry is a constant: e.g. https://tinyurl.com/yad4j8ne.

  22. “…Google needs to get a grip by firing the bulk of its senior management and replacing them with sensible people who put in place policies which make the firm more like a serious corporation than a playground…”

    I’m suddenly reminded of the punchline to that old joke about God & Satan having a boundary dispute:

    “OK, God, and just where do you expect to find a lawyer?”

  23. If a highly localized volcano were to incinerate Google headquarters and all of its employees worldwide suddenly dissolve Thanos-like into the atmosphere while the server farms melt into slag and all of their products suddenly brick, after a week of adjustment the world would tick along like nothing important had happened.

  24. “What’s amazing to me is how fast leftist radical institution and innovations unravel in the worst possible way. That happens regularly: you don’t have to wait decades for the Russian revolution to become a nightmare, and the same happened everywhere: from China to Venezuela.”

    I’ve touched on this with my idea that a Corbyn government would unravel so fast it couldn’t actually achieve much that was too destructive. The main point being everything is so interconnected these days, that a socialist revolution no longer has a) a captive audience or b) the freedom allowed by a high degree of autarky.

    Take Britain in 1945, facing a pure socialist government. The country was far more self sufficient in food and energy than it is today, (even so the country nearly starved and froze in 1947 because the socialists nearly ran out of hard currency) and had far more manufacturing capacity than today. Equally moving abroad was virtually impossible for anyone but the very elite, and they were subject to capital controls. The currency was also fixed against other currencies. So a government had a population by the throat, it couldn’t leave, and it could just about keep them fed and warm from its own resources, it didn’t require too many imports to do so. Generally speaking the mass of a population facing a socialist revolution tend to stay put, and hunker down to survive, rather than attempt to leave – whether the socialists can manage to stay in power depends on the margin – how many people will try to leave? If you can keep that to a minimum you can usually stay in power for a decent amount of time.

    Fast forward to today, if the UK faced a similar government to 1945, everything is far more fluid. Floating currency, freedom of movement of people and money, human rights laws, far more reliance on foreign energy and food and manufactures for everyday living. So any government that collapses the currency through its actions faces immediate consequences – prices moving up on the forecourts and supermarkets within weeks if not days. Shortages of certain things within months. The economy tanking due to high inflation. Equally people and their wealth would haemorrhage out of the country, as its easy to do these days, and in the longer terms attempts to confiscate assets would face legal challenges.

    So the whole thing unravels far faster than 70,80 years ago, thankfully.

  25. I mean, asked ‘someone to Burning Man and for her to take off her shirt’? That’s supposed to be harrassing?

    It’s not good, given he was interviewing her for a job and the Burning Man trip occurred between the interview and the offer (which never came). This would be considered sexual harassment in most companies, even before the MeToo nonsense. At the very least it’s highly unprofessional, but what does one expect from a bloke who turns up to work looking like that?

  26. Are you a woman in the Palo Alto/Bay Area who works in Cyber/InfoSec/Security/Hacking or wants to? Join Cyber Ladies! Meet other women (and those who identify as female), network, learn and share!

    yup…

  27. after a week of adjustment the world would tick along like nothing important had happened.

    It would take longer than a week, and there would be significant disruption. But your core point remains unsullied: Google doesn’t actually provide any services that aren’t duplicated by other vendors (unfortunately, they’re mostly duplicated by Microsoft, and giving Microsoft more of a monopoly position is never a good idea).

    Also there needs to be some competition in the smartphone space. Are we assuming that the Android source code similarly self-immolates in toto everywhere, or can it be forked?

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