Google corrects rules for inviting guest speakers to its office after recent controversy over Indian speakers

Alphabet’s Google this week rolled out rules for inviting guest speakers to its office, days after it canceled a talk by an Indian historian who disparaged groups and their concerns, according to company emails seen by Reuters.

The policy introduced on Thursday is by Google the latest effort to preserve a culture of openness while also addressing divisions that arise as the company’s workforce grows.

Workers at Google and other major tech companies have in recent years clashed and protested over politics as well as gender and racial equality. Also, Alphabet, Appleand Amazon all face a unionist motive whose demands include the adoption of progressive policies by companies.

Google’s speaker rules, which Reuters viewed, cite risks to the brand from certain talks and ask employees to “consider whether there is a business reason to host a speaker.” and whether the event directly supports our corporate goals.”

It calls for avoiding topics that could “disturb or undermine Google’s culture of engagement” and reiterates that speakers are prohibited from campaigning for political candidates and voting measures.

“We’ve always been proud to host external speakers at Google, as they provide great opportunities for our employees to learn and network,” Google spokesman Ryan Lamont told Reuters. The update process will “ensure these events are useful and contribute to a productive work environment.”

An email introducing the policy to regulators said it unified and clarified patchwork guidelines.

Tighter scrutiny threatens the university-like, liberal culture that Google has prized since its founding. However, a perceived more attractive workplace that can attract a more diverse workforce could help Google develop products with broader appeal.

In recent years, internal disputes that have spread to the public have prompted Google to step up content moderation on workplace message boards and cut the frequency of company-wide meetings.

Rivals like meta There is also a policy to invite speakers.

At Google, speakers included then-US presidential candidate Barack Obama, celebrity chef Ayesha Curry and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


The speaker dispute has simmered Google since at least April, when it said an internal grudge led it to cancel a talk about India’s socio-religious caste system by the author. pseudo Thenmozhi Soundararajan, who advocates for those marginalized by caste prejudice.

Members of an internal Hindu group complained about Soundararajan, describing her rhetoric as inciting, an accusation she called bigotry.

According to an internal message, at least one of the critics suggested inviting Rajiv Malhotra to balance. Malhotra, a self-described opposition tech entrepreneur turned author, has labeled activists like Soundararajan “snake” and criticized affirmative action policies that promote lower caste groups.

The Hindu group at Google has finally scheduled Malhotra to speak about India’s positive global influence, according to an invitation. But organizers canceled November 10, a day before a scheduled talk at Google’s Silicon Valley offices, according to a follow-up announcement.

Some workers have complained to senior management about Malhotra, according to a notice calling for complaints. A linked document organized by the Alphabet Workers Union, a labor organization that petitioned Google to name caste in its non-discrimination policies, noted that Malhotra described how Homosexuality is a medical condition and Islam is a destructive force.

Malhotra told Reuters he supports marginalized communities but opposes “politicizing bias in a way that divides society and leaves them vulnerable to foreign invasion.”

According to messages between employees, allowing him to speak after the cancellation of Soundararajan’s would become a conflicting standard.

The new speakers policy stipulates that workers “must submit proposals and get them approved” by a “cross-functional” review team. Requests are due at least 12 weeks before an event.

“Wait for a response before contacting the speaker and/or their representative,” it said. “Failing to follow this process is a violation of Google’s policies.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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