The balance of his memo argues that he is not against pursuing greater gender diversity at Google; he says it is against the current means Google is using to pursue that end and the way the company conceives of tradeoffs between the good of diversity and other goods.
He wants to use different means to address “the problem,” he insists, and doubts that the tradeoffs of getting to a staff of 50 percent men and 50 percent women would be worth it (a position implicitly shared by every company that doesn’t have gender parity in its workforce). He may be incorrect, but even if the substance of every viewpoint that he expressed is wrongheaded and even if Google must make huge strides in its treatment of women, that won’t make characterizing the memo as an anti-diversity screed any more accurate.
The author specifically objects to using what his memo calls discriminatory means to achieve greater gender diversity, then adds that he has concrete suggestions for changes at Google that would “increase women’s representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination.” In his telling, this could be achieved by making software engineering “more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration” and changes that would “allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive,” as well as offering more opportunities for employees to work part time.
Whether one regards those suggestions as brilliant, rooted in pernicious gender stereotypes, or anywhere in between, they are clearly and explicitly suggestions to increase diversity in a manner the author regards as having a stronger chance of actually working than some of the tactics that he is critiquing.
Later, the author writes, “Philosophically, I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principled reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimizing for Google—with Google’s diversity being a component of that.” Someone who believes diversity is one component of many for “optimizing” a company is not anti-diversity, even if he places a lesser value on achieving gender parity in staff, vis-a-vis other goods, than those who argue that Google should make whatever tradeoffs are necessary to achieve equal gender representation.
Perhaps the author’s approach would lead to less gender diversity at the company if it were adopted. To shorthand his position as “anti-diversity” before the fact is still misleading.
Journalists grasp this nuance on lots of other issues.
Donald Trump campaigned on the promise of more jobs for working-class Americans. In service of that end, he has proposed canceling free-trade agreements, building a wall to keep out immigrants, and eliminating lots of environmental regulations. Critics who avow that they favor more jobs for the working class, but oppose achieving more jobs through those specific means, are not described as “anti-job,” especially when they suggest specific alternatives for job-creation. Even if their alternatives would result in fewer jobs than the Trump administration’s plans, that still wouldn’t make a writeup of their proposal “an anti-job memo.”