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A crisis forces Google to uphold its values

Memegen was filled with posts mocking email leak of Sundar Pichai's memo to the media so quickly

Daisuke Wakabayashi | Bloomberg 

A crisis forces Google  to uphold its values
In Silicon Valley, some of the most pointed critiques of the company’s handling of the issue were posted to its own message board. Photo: Reuters

As a crisis unfurled at over an employee memo that argued biological factors helped explain the shortage of female engineers and leaders in Silicon Valley, some of the most pointed critiques of the company’s handling of the issue were posted to its own message boards.

Memegen, an internal forum that uses images overlaid with funny captions, was filled with irreverent posts that openly mocked how an email discussing the memo from Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, had leaked to the media so quickly. Other posts, seen in screenshots of that were shared with The New York Times by a employee, questioned why seemed to be taking cues from outsiders.

is one of many outlets provided by to allow employees to express themselves, argue, criticise products or policies, and even protest decisions by management.

Google’s liberal stance toward self-expression, enabled by those online forums, was created in part to show that it is not bound by the conventions that stifle more stodgy

has prided itself on its openness. Employees can search documents for information about different divisions within the company on its internal network. They can make announcements and share information on the employee-only version of the social media service Plus. They can use to criticise management and openly challenge executives with questions voted on by employees at weekly companywide meetings.

And employees typically have a lot to say. There are about 87,000 groups — essentially email lists formed around a central theme — and more than 8,000 discussion groups like “misc” — short for miscellaneous — where employees debate and disagree on topics ranging from the optimal temperature in the office to the brand of laundry detergent the company should use for washing employee towels.

That openness has gone hand-in-hand with the expectation that what was said at would stay within  

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