Hey, you all. You’ve just landed on Human Capital, the weekly newsletter detailing the latest in labor and diversity and inclusion in tech. The week kicked off with GitHub making a public apology to the person the company terminated for cautioning his employees about Nazis in D.C. on the day of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Later in the week, Google revoked corporate access from AI ethicist Margaret Mitchell in what some are saying is reminiscent of the company’s treatment of Dr. Timnit Gebru. Meanwhile, Instacart is making some changes to its platform that will result in job loss.
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GitHub’s head of HR resigns; the company offers fired Jewish employees his job back.
A GitHub internal investigation revealed the company made “significant errors of judgment and procedure” in the firing of the Jewish employee who cautioned his coworkers about the presence of Nazis in the D.C. area on the day of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. In a blog post, GitHub COO Erica Brescia said the company’s head of HR took full responsibility for what happened and resigned from the company yesterday. GitHub did not disclose the name of the person who left, but it’s widely known that Carrie Olesen was the chief human resources officer at GitHub.
GitHub said it has “reversed the decision to separate with the employee” and talked to his representative.
“To the employee, we wish to say publicly: We sincerely apologize,” Brescia said in the blog post. However, the terminated employee previously told me that he did not want his job back but instead some other form of reconciliation.
According to Axios, Google is investigating AI ethicist Margaret Mitchell for reportedly using automated scripts to find examples of mistreatment of Dr. Timnit Gebru. Gebru says she was fired from Google while Google has maintained that she resigned. In a statement to Axios, Google said the company had locked Mitchell’s account:
Our security systems automatically lock an employee’s corporate account when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered. In this instance, yesterday our systems detected that an account had exfiltrated thousands of files and shared them with multiple external accounts. We explained this to the employee earlier today.
The recently-formed Alphabet Workers Union said it was concerned by Mitchell’s suspension of corporate access: Regardless of the outcome of the company’s investigation, the ongoing targeting of leaders in this organization calls into question Google’s commitment to ethics—in AI and their business practices. Many members of the Ethical AI team are AWU members, and the membership of our union recognizes the crucial work that they do and stands in solidarity with them at this moment.