Google wants you to bring your whole self to work. That sounds good, in theory, but they are learning that sometimes it's best to bring your work-self to work and leave your home-self home. The Wall Street Journal reports:

"Activists at Google" helped organize a rally critical of President Donald Trump's policies. "Militia at Google" members discussed their desire to overturn a prohibition on guns in the office. "Conservatives at Google" allege discrimination against right-leaning job candidates. "Sex Positive at Google" group members are concerned that explicit content is being unfairly removed from Google Drive file-sharing software."

"Googlers For Animals" invited the PETA president, only to be undercut by members of the "Black Googler Network."

Question: Just what does Google do these days? It sounds more like a conglomeration of social groups that occasionally does something with the internet. That's not really a good position to be in.

What you want in a company is unity. Unity isn't the opposite of diversity. You want different ideas, but you want to be focused on helping the company succeed. When you're so focused on pointing out your differences and slotting everyone into groups, it's difficult to achieve unity. 

Of course, Google feels like they can do whatever they want because they are simply the best at what they do. But, with all this time spent focused on the extra-curricular, will they lose that place?

Culture is extremely important in a business, and the startup vibe of Silicon Valley, where we're all hip and cool hasn't translated well into big, established companies. But you cannot forget the purpose of the company. 

Being involved in politics and encouraging discussion among employees doesn't seem to be working all that well for Google. They are currently embroiled in lawsuits saying they discriminated against conservatives (political expression is protected in California), white males, transgender people, and women. You would think that a company couldn't discriminate against all these groups at the same time, but when you consider the size of the company and how important "free expression" is in this company, you are going to run into problems.

While when you allow people to speak their minds, you find out what makes them tick, and that's a good thing. But, as a business owner, you also open yourselves up to liability if they say things that can be perceived as discriminatory against any particular group. If you have a manager expressing one view and an employee expressing another, all on a company sanctioned message board, you're setting yourself up for disaster.

So, here's a suggestion. Let's not bring our whole selves to work. Let's all go home after work. Let's develop friendships outside of work. Crazy, right?

While I would never want someone to feel they are unwelcome at the office, I wouldn't want a business to encourage so much off-topic discussion on company time. Deloitte, for instance, dissolved their diversity groups. Google ought to consider the same. Focus on their core business. It might reduce their exposure to lawsuits. And it will definitely make them more productive. 

Published on: May 3, 2018