Google Revises Guest Speakers Rule to Avoid Future Controversy

December 2, 2022

Here’s another example of high school science club management in action. Free thinking and cultural sensitivity seem to be in a constant tug-of-war. Finding itself caught in the middle, “Google Fixes Rules for Inviting Guest Speakers to Its Offices After Recent Row Over Indian Speaker,” Gadgets 360 shares. Reuters explains:

“Alphabet’s Google this week introduced rules for inviting guest speakers to its offices, days after it canceled a talk by an Indian historian who has disparaged marginalised groups and their concerns, according to company emails seen by Reuters. The policy released Thursday is Google’s latest effort to preserve an open culture while addressing divisions that have emerged as its workforce has grown.

Workers at Google and other big tech companies in recent years have clashed and protested over politics and racial and gender equity. Also, Alphabet, Apple, and Amazon all face union organising drives whose demands include that the companies adopt progressive policies. The Google speaker rules, seen by Reuters, cite risk to the brand from certain talks and asks workers to ‘consider whether there’s a business reason for hosting the speaker and if the event directly supports our company goals.’ It calls for avoiding topics that could be ‘disruptive or undermine Google’s culture of belonging’ and reiterates that speakers are barred from advocacy of political candidates and ballot measures.”

This clarification follows months of complaints from workers about scheduled appearances by diametrically opposed authors Thenmozhi Soundararajan and Rajiv Malhotra. See the write-up for details on that dustup. Now potential speakers must be approved by a review team, meaning any request must be submitted at least 12 weeks ahead. So much for Googley spontaneity.

Cynthia Murrell, December 2, 2022

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