5 things to learn about dealing with a divided office from Google's CEO

Leo Vartorella - Print  | 

A controversial memo circulating around Google's Mountain View, Calif., office caused uproar at the company and beyond, but CEO Sundar Pichai's response is a prime example of how executives can swiftly and decisively react to divided opinions at their office, according to Inc.

The 10-page memo authored by a Google employee made a number of arguments, the most controversial of which was that biological differences between men and women made women less fit to work in the tech industry and hold leadership positions. However, the memo also made points that many Google employees agreed with —such as how company ideology was so strongly embedded that many felt uncomfortable offering dissenting viewpoints — which made Mr. Pichai's position more difficult.

Listed below are five takeaways from Mr. Pichai's response to Google employees, which all leaders can learn from if they face a divided workforce.

1. His response was swift yet thoughtful. He promptly fired the memo's author for violating his company's code of conduct by propagating gender stereotypes, but quickly sent out his own email to employees that clearly expressed his views on the matter and walked them through his thought process.

2. Mr. Pichai acknowledged the criticism on other company matters that the memo brought up and made it clear that he values criticism and encourages debate.

3. The email sets the example on company values from the top-down by demonstrating what kind of language and action Google won't tolerate, and helps to establish a cohesive corporate culture.

4. The response doesn't try to do too much and acknowledges that in order to address these issues, employees will need to engage in an extended dialogue.

5. Mr. Pichai is empathetic to both sides and lets employees offended by the memo feel safe while also creating an environment where those who hold minority opinions don't feel as if they aren't heard.

You can read the full email here.

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