James Damore is the Google employee who was fired this week after he wrote a memo titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” questioning some of Google’s diversity practices. Tuesday Damore gave an interview to Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson in which he describes his perspective on what happened. Peterson published the interview on Google’s You Tube today. Below I’ve transcribed some of the most interesting bits. The full video interview is below.
His Work History at Google
Jordan B. Peterson: Now you’ve been there three years, is that correct? But also as an intern before that?
James Damore: Yeah, so about four years total.
JBP: How would you say you’ve performed as an employee at Google? Have people been happy with you or have you been in trouble?
Damore: No, I got promoted twice. My last review was the highest possible, superb, which is the top few percentile. So it definitely wasn’t based on performance that they fired me.
Diversity Summits at Google
Damore: A month and a half ago I went to one of our diversity summits, all of it unrecorded and super-secret. And they told me a lot of things that I thought were not right.
JBP: Okay, what do you mean unrecorded and super-secret?
Damore: Well, they were telling us about a lot of these potentially illegal practices that they’ve been doing to try to increase diversity.
JBP: What kind of practices?
Damore: Well basically treating people differently based on what their race or gender are.
JBP: Oh, you mean racism?
Damore: Yeah, basically.
JBP: I see and so it was unrecorded and ultra-secret in what manner?
Damore: Yeah, so most meetings at Google are recorded. Anyone at Google can watch it. We’re trying to be really open about everything, except for this. They don’t want any paper trail for any of these things.
JBP: Okay, why?
Damore: Because, I think, it’s illegal and as some of the internal polls showed there were a large percent of people that agreed with me on the document. And so if everyone got to see this stuff then they would really bring up some criticism.
JBP: Okay, so you went to this diversity meeting and you weren’t happy with the sort of things you were being told and with the practices…And what were you being told?
Damore: There’s a lot of ways in which they pressure people to ‘increase the diversity of their team.’ And you know there’s no way to do that besides actually choosing someone based on their race or gender.
Why He Wrote the Memo
Damore: I just wanted to clarify my thoughts on this. I really just wanted to be proven wrong because if what I was saying was right then something bad is happening. And so about a month ago I submitted it to feedback to that program. And you know I saw that people looked at it but no one actually said anything.
JBP: And what sort of feedback did you submit?
Damore: I basically said what I said in the document and then I linked to the document itself. So, I actually published this about a month ago and it was only after it got viral and leaked to the news that Google started caring.
The Reaction from Google’s Higher Ups
Damore: There were a lot of upper management that specifically called it out and started saying how harmful it is and how it’s unacceptable, this sort of viewpoint is not allowed at Google.
Why He Was Fired
JBP: Well what was their rationale for firing you exactly, what was the excuse that was given?
Damore: So the official excuse was that I was perpetuating gender stereotypes.
JBP: That you were perpetuating gender stereotypes.
JBP: And did they say anything else about your performance or about anything else that you had done.
Damore: No, that was the only reason.
What He Thinks About Writing the Memo Now
Damore: It definitely sucks but at least I was proven right.
JBP: What do you mean by proven right?
Damore: Just that the whole culture just tries to silence any dissenting view and that we really need some more objective way of looking at these things.
That’s much less than half the interview. In the second half, Peterson walks through Damore’s memo arguing that its particulars are backed up by current science.