by Scott Eck
Ever since the treatise entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” was published, our phones have not stopped ringing. And once Google’s response was made public, things got even busier in the various Leadership Masters offices. For this reason, I thought it best to put something out there both for the benefit of our current clients and for that of our future ones.
The question of moral, philosophical, and political biases raised by the Google employee was a sound one. The practices of separation, polarization, and aggression that are prevalent in today’s global cultures are penetrating even the most self-sustaining, self-correcting, high-status work environments. However, his assumptions and subsequent conclusions regarding the status drivers of both men and women in technology-based industries was, in my view, way off the mark.
Currently, Google is not a client of my organization, Leadership Masters. But based on the high-status environmental work that we have done on behalf of such IT leaders as GE, Boeing, IBM, Booz-Allen, 3M, Dell, Lockheed-Martin, and others, I can say with confidence that the existence of ‘Ideological Echo Chambers’ are normally the organic result of an organization’s efforts to create a high-status work environment for all stakeholders, regardless of orientation or gender. The employee who discussed his perceptions of the current bias bubbles in Google’s Mountain View Campus was, essentially, assigning low status to his organization’s efforts to build a culturally diverse, high-status environment. It was this low-status assignment, combined with a low-status assumption regarding women in his chosen industry, that was likely a strong contributing factor in his dismissal.
Indeed, it was the very dismissal of the Google employee that generated the most ‘buzz’ around our various offices. Some of our clients wondered if the dismissal represented a zero-tolerance ‘correction’ by Google, some asked if the dismissal represented reaction and retaliation. Since Google is not one of our clients, we could not supply a definitive response. What we did reinforce, however, in each of those calls and e-mails, is that rapid growth can only occur when all parties involved in any human transaction are operating on an equal, high-status basis. (Status Solution Rule #4) And since Google’s rapid growth and success cannot be questioned, we can assume that there is a self-building, self-sustaining, self-correcting, high-status environment in place. It may not be a perfect environment (we have yet to find an absolutely PERFECT work environment), yet clearly there are strategies in place to build a culturally diverse, psychologically safe, high-status energy across Google’s various locations.
One of the great leadership challenges of our time will be to develop strategies for building environments where equal, HIGH status is assigned and shared, consistently, by all individuals and all groups, no matter where they appear on the org chart, no matter what gender or orientation, and no matter what socio-political negative energy is penetrating consciousness or sub-consciousness. This is becoming a particularly daunting task, since we seem to be dividing and sub-dividing into more and more enclaves or ‘camps’ on a daily basis. To counteract such separation, we must remember that camp mentality is a low-status ENERGY; an energy that must be gauged and then met with the corrective energy contained within an equal, high-status environment. Such high-status energy will allow for the expression of differing and diverse opinions, and the freedom to question both the practices and philosophy of any organization, without the fear of reprisal or retaliation. Leadership Masters is committed to helping to create culturally diverse, self-sustaining, high-status environments for both organizations and governments around the world. Such environments are critical for rapid growth, critical for both individual and group creativity and achievement, and critical for fostering diverse and empowered cultures.