Employees of Google during an internal monthly meeting on Thursday, 2 June, questioned executives why the anti-bias talk by Thenmozhi Soundararajan was cancelled.
The company’s top diversity officer responded that it was cancelled because it “was actually pulling employees apart,” reported Insider, based on an audio recording of the meeting that was leaked.
This news comes just days after Tanuja Gupta, a senior manager at Google, resigned from the company on 1 June, to express solidarity with a Dalit rights activist who was not allowed to give a presentation on caste.
In April, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder of Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organisation, was scheduled to give a lecture to employees of Google News during Dalit History Month. However, it was called off after several Google employees called Soundararajan "Hindu-phobic" and "anti-Hindu" in emails to company heads.
During the all-member meeting on Thursday, the question of whether Google wanted to alter more diversity initiatives to “not cause others discomfort,” in light of the anti-bias event’s cancelation was raised. Employees had reportedly asked how they can discuss discrimination at Google considering the retaliation Gupta faced.
"Retaliation is a normalised Google practice to handle internal criticism, and women take the hit," Gupta had written in her resignation email.
Google’s chief diversity officer, Melonie Parker, responded that the company was “deeply opposed” to caste discrimination, and that “it has no place here or anywhere,” Insider reported.
“And in fact, a large group of employees felt that they were being vilified. And this resulted in a lot of internal concern, heated threads, as well as escalations," he said.
Union Demands Google To Have a Continued Commitment To Address Caste Discrimination
Meanwhile, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), also informally referred to as the Google Union, has expressed solidarity with Soundararajan and Gupta.
They demanded that Soundararajan's talk must be reinstated at Google News and the company should have a continued commitment to bring in Dalit and caste-oppressed speakers to address caste discrimination. Google must immediately add caste to all of its HR policies in all locations, the tweet read.
Netizens Slam Google for ‘Blatant Casteism'
Sundar Pichai, Google's chief operating officer (CEO), said that the company should take into account “all types of issues people face, and we should strive to make a difference in all of the areas, including caste discrimination” as part of its DEI work, quoted Insider.
However, Soundararajan who had appealed to Pichai to allow her to give her presentation, has still not received a response.
"He is Indian and he is Brahmin and he grew up in Tamil Nadu. There is no way you grow up in Tamil Nadu and not know about caste because of how caste politics shaped the conversation," said Soundararajan, who is also a Dalit, reported The Washington Post.
“Even a consultant like myself is facing casteist smears in the company you lead. Imagine what a caste-oppressed worker at Google would face if they dared to come forward,” her statement read.
Several prominent personalities and people took to social media to slam the "blatant casteism" at the workspace.
Some Netizens Claim She Has 'Hatred for Everything Hindu'
Meanwhile, several other netizens have hailed the decision stating that she was "anti-Brahmin" and was "bent on creating caste diversion."
HinduPACT, a Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective USA, accused Soundararajan of peddling "a vicious and well-resourced influence operation."
"What drives their campaign is a shared hatred for everything HINDU and a well curated agenda to defame and de-platform any representation of the Indian American diaspora or Hindu Americans in the future of America. Sinister and Goebelessian," the tweet read.