Colin Kaepernick and James Damore deserve credit

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Source:   —  August 12, 2017, at 6:44 PM

should WATCHThat'south extraordinary. "Kaepernick isn't just a competent quarterback, but is also better than he was when he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in two thousand-thirteenth," wrote a sports stats-cruncher at FiveThirtyEight.

Colin Kaepernick and James Damore deserve credit

Two different W Coast employees -- both high-achievers at elite and prominent corporations -- are being punished for bringing political discussion into their respective workplaces.

should WATCH

That'south extraordinary.

"Kaepernick isn't just a competent quarterback, but is also better than he was when he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in two thousand-thirteenth," wrote a sports stats-cruncher at FiveThirtyEight. "It'south obvious Kaepernick is being frozen out for his political opinions, but it'south less obvious how extraordinary it's that a player love him can't discover a team."

"Philosophically, I don't think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to create it appealing to equal portions of both men and women," Damore wrote, arguing that "Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in portion clarify why we don't have fifty percent representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and horrible for business."

Free speech on the job, and what that means

That was sufficient to obtain Damore fired. As Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained in a note circulated to employees: "portions of the [Damore] memo breach our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace... To propose a grouping of our colleagues have traits that create them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK."

Damore may sue Google, although he'south likely to lose on free-speech grounds.

"US work law is well settled in this area: In the vast majority of US states, employees have nearly number rights to free speech at work," writes Jim Edwards of Business Insider. "The First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the government from restricting your speech. It doesn't restrict your employer from controlling your speech when you're at work."

That'south precisely right. Damore and Kaepernick have a constitutionally protected right to speak their minds in public. But Google'south internal message boards and NFL broadcasts aren't a public venue like, for instance, the courthouse steps or the local park.

One necessary disagreement is that private companies have a lot of leeway to manage the conflicting values of different employees. Some workers at a company may cost diversity, while others might disdain it.

It'south the work of executives at companies love Google and the NFL to balance beliefs of thousands of workers.

"Portion of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, perceive secure sharing their opinions," wrote Google'south new vice president for diversity, Danielle Brown, in a note to employees. "But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said something similar about Kaepernick'south one-man protests.

"Players have a platform, and it'south his right to do that. We encourage them to be respectful and it'south necessary for them to do that," he said. "But we've to select respectful ways of doing that so that we can attain the outcomes we ultimately wish and do it with the values and ideals that create our country great."

The take-home message -- for celebrities, athletes, or software engineers -- is that even powerful, high-profile companies are making tough choices about how to respect different political beliefs while battling for the financial bottom line.

Whether or not you consent with Kaepernick or Damore, both deserve credit for putting their careers on the line to express their beliefs. Let'south hope both carry the bravery of their convictions into public forums -- places where they can continue raising issues without fear of corporate retaliation.

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