Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe is the current head of Diversity and Inclusion at Google for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Some may recall a time when major corporations didn’t have Diversity and Inclusion offices, but the 21st century is a unique and colorful time. Palmer-Edgecumbe has a strong background in D&I, having been a chief executive at Ari Diversity Consulting practice, and before that having six years as Global Head of Diversity at Barclays Group. The enthusiastic Palmer-Edgecumbe writes prolifically on the subject in a D&I blog for the Online Guardian in the United Kingdom. Prior to his full time entry into the Diversity field, the Google spokesman had a solid background in economics, and was a Head of Industry Analysis.
Google has launched a Legalise Love campaign in an effort to decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world. Palmer-Edgecumbe calls Google employees “Googlers” and explains that Google, “Encourages people to bring their whole selves to work. In all of Google’s 60 offices around the world, Google is committed to a work environment where Googlers can be themselves and thrive.” He indicates that Google is a leader in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion efforts, and feels that there is still a long way to go to “achieve full equality.” His goal is that Google employees should be safe and accepted wherever they are. One particular and initial thrust of the Legalize Love campaign is in response to the non-legality of gay marriage in Singapore and Poland.
Google has chosen to focus on Poland in particular owing to its largely Roman Catholic population and the Polish opposition to gay marriage. But Google makes the point that this is not an attack on the Catholic Church, rather a way to support gay marriage and Barack Obama. Google will extend the initiative to “every country where the company has an office, especially in places with cultures that are homophobic, and/or where anti-gay laws exist.”
Google feels a company should have a distinctive and unique corporate image, and that the company will benefit from an image they feel is representative of thinking in the modern world. In September of 2008, a co-founder and president in Technology at Google, Sergey Brin, posted commitments to a policy favoring gay marriage in the company’s official blog. Brin prefaced his remarks at that time by saying that because of “Google’s diversity of people and opinions on political and social issues, including religion or the absence of religion, [they] ordinarily don’t take positions on issues outside [their] field.” However, they felt a need to take exception to the matter of gay marriage. Brin conceded that when Proposition 8, dealing with gay marriage, appeared on California ballots, it was “an unlikely question for Google to take an official company position on. However,” Brin continued, “disallowance of gay marriage is an encroachment on our personal lives. It is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 — we should not eliminate anyone’s fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.”
Google has fought for fairness in these issues. Google covers a tax that gay and lesbian employees must bear when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits. This fee is not charged by the government for heterosexual married couples.
It would seem that gay rights, toleration, and same-sex marriage are the wave of the future. The once taboo is now the daily course. We hope that our modern philosophers are correct in their thinking, Hindsight we remember, is 20/20.