Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded today to the firing of employee James Damore over his controversial memo on workplace diversity, stating that while he does not regret the decision, he regrets that people misunderstood it as a politically motivated event. Speaking in a live conversation with journalist and Recode co-founder Kara Swisher, MSNBC host Ari Melber, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in San Francisco, Pichai said that the decision to fire Damore was about ensuring women at Google felt like the company was committed to creating a welcoming environment.
“I regret that people misunderstand that we may have made this for a political belief one way or another,” Pichai said. “It’s important for the women at Google, and all the people at Google, that we want to make an inclusive environment.” When pressed by Swisher on the issue of regret, Pichai stated more definitively, “I don’t regret it.” Wojcicki, who has spoken publicly about how Damore’s memo affected her personally, followed up with, “I think it was the right decision.”
Damore, who was fired back in August after his internal memo went viral, filed a lawsuit earlier this month alleging Google discriminates against white male conservatives. The crux of Damore’s memo was that Google’s diversity efforts are misplaced, that women may be biologically less suited to engineering and programming jobs in the tech industry, and that Google creates a hostile environment for conservatives.
In response to the memo, Pichai, who said back in August that Damore crossed “the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” made the decision with other top Google executives to fire him. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” Pichai wrote in his statement. In response to the prospective legal action, a Google spokesperson said earlier this month, “We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court.”