Google Memo

The Football Association isn’t the only organisation to suffer a reputational blow this month. Tech giant, Google, a predominantly left-leaning firm, caused a stir when one of its engineers circled a ten-page memo about the issue of gender equality and why women were genetically less suited to tech and leadership roles.

The memo states that women are inclined to work empathetically and co-operatively whereas men work systematically and their higher tolerance to stress, coupled with desire for social status, make them more suitable to leadership roles.

The engineer has since been dismissed for a breach of Google’s code of conduct and basic values. However, the company has come under fire for oppressing the employee’s right to free speech and expression of individual beliefs.

The engineer in question is now considering legal action. Whilst this is an American company it is worth examining how a similar issue would be handled in the UK given the socio-political divide on many current issues.

The Equality Act states that a person can be discriminated against on the grounds of their beliefs, or lack of them. So, could a person holding a belief that men are genetically superior be discriminated against?

The answer is no, previous case law states there are five criteria to a valid belief, the final one being, it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others. A belief such as the above would almost certainly be incompatible and thus any claim would fail. Phew.