Identity group discriminated against in the tech industry fights back

James Damore, a former Google engineer

White males may not be a minority identity group in the West but they are increasingly facing discrimination and racism because of their gender and the colour of their skin. In Silicon Valley, some of them have decided to fight back against the diversity quotas that unfairly discriminate against them.

[…] Two high-profile legal cases in which white men have accused employers of discrimination or retaliation have put a spotlight on U.S. companies’ efforts to make career advancement more accessible to women and people of color.

A recruiter is accusing YouTube of retaliating against him after he complained that the video site discriminated against white and Asian male applicants in favor of hiring other people of color and women. The case comes on the heels of a lawsuit against Google, in which James Damore has accused the company of firing him for espousing conservative political views that oppose the company’s diversity-related hiring practices.

[…] “You can have a goal, even a numerical goal over a time period, to increase the number of women or people of color,” said Dennis Parker, director of the racial justice program at the American Civil Liberties Union. “That’s different than saying ‘We’re not going to hire any more white men.’ ”

The cases could have broader implications for Silicon Valley companies and their recruiting methods as the tech industry faces continued scrutiny for a lack of diversity. While discrimination against any sex or race is forbidden by federal statute, courts have long allowed companies to put in place programs meant to correct imbalances, such as targeted outreach and training courses designed for people from under-represented groups.

One of the last major cases alleging discrimination against white men was decided in 2009 when the Supreme Court sided with white firefighters who said the New Haven, Conn., fire department discriminated against them by invalidating the results of a test used to determine promotions. Fearing the test would be called discriminatory, the fire department threw out the results and used other measures to make promotions when black firefighters scored poorly.

[…] Arne Wilberg, the plaintiff in the suit against YouTube, is a white recruiter who worked at Google for nine years, including four years at YouTube. He alleges that the video site told recruiters to cancel interviews with applicants who weren’t female, black or Hispanic after setting quotas for hiring minorities.

“We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity,” a Google spokeswoman said in response to the suit. “At the same time, we unapologetically try to find a diverse pool of qualified candidates for open roles.”

That is like saying that I have a clear policy to select my meal based on what tastes the best but, at the same time, I do unapologetically try to find a diverse selection of vegetarian dishes to make my choice from.

Google fired Mr. Damore in August after he circulated a memo that criticized Google’s diversity efforts and suggested women were less qualified than men for some technology jobs. Mr. Damore and a co-worker sued, accusing Google of being a hostile workplace for employees with conservative views and alleging it unfairly favors women and certain minorities when hiring and promoting.

[…] Many U.S. employers are under pressure from employees, advocacy groups and, in some cases, investors to diversify their payrolls and, by extension, tackle issues like the gender wage gap, sexual harassment and economic inequality. For example, activist shareholder Arjuna Capital has led campaigns to compel firms including Amazon.com Inc.and Apple Inc. to identify and fix pay disparities between male and female workers.

[…] Men have filed between 22% and 23% of all Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges alleging sex-based discrimination in the past three years.

Discrimination claims from white men aren’t confined to the office. Last fall, a man sued a San Diego restaurant that hosted a women’s networking event, saying he was discriminated against because he wasn’t allowed to attend and, although he was permitted to sit at the bar, wasn’t given the discounted drink specials offered to attendees. His suit naming the restaurant and Ladies Get Paid, the organization that hosted the event, was settled.[…]

-wsj.com


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