Just a few weeks into her new job as the vice president of diversity chief, integrity and governance at Google, Danielle Mastrangel-Brown has been thrown into the fire.
Brown, who was hired by the company in late June to help improve a lack of diversity at the tech giant, has been tasked with determining the best path forward after a Google employee sent a 10-page letter criticizing Google’s initiatives.
The letter, authored by an employee now identified as engineer James Damore, went viral within the company and argued that Google should stop its diversity campaigns in favor of finding “ideological diversity.”
Read Damore’s full letter, published by Motherboard, by clicking here.
Ultimately, Brown and Google decided to fire Damore for the letter and his beliefs, Bloomberg reported, and that’s caused some outrage on the internet.
Here’s what you need to know about Brown:
1. Brown Sent a Letter to Google Employees in Response to Damore’s Email
According to a blog post by Eileen Naughton, Google’s vice president of people operations, Brown was hired to better “areas improvement across the board.” Those areas include the hiring, promotion and retention of employees in addition to crafting a healthy work environment.
“Danielle will look at our efforts in all these areas afresh,” Naughton wrote.
With that in mind, Brown was almost immediately put to the task, as Damore’s email came just a few weeks after she was hired, and she’s taken a strong stance.
After reading Damore’s message, Brown sent a company-wide letter addressing the matter. In it, she said that she started in her new role “just a couple weeks ago” and had planned to introduce herself to the company in the week that followed, but due to the “heated debate,” she wanted to chime in. She explained that improving the culture and diversity level at Google is imperative for a successful future.
Read below for Brown’s full letter to employees:
I’m Danielle, Google’s brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance. I started just a couple of weeks ago, and I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate we’ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words.
Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.
Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, “Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ‘Nuff said.”
Google has taken a strong stand on this issue, by releasing its demographic data and creating a company wide OKR on diversity and inclusion. Strong stands elicit strong reactions. Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable. But I firmly believe Google is doing the right thing, and that’s why I took this job.
Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.
I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and I can tell you that I’ve never worked at a company that has so many platforms for employees to express themselves — TGIF, Memegen, internal G+, thousands of discussion groups. I know this conversation doesn’t end with my email today. I look forward to continuing to hear your thoughts as I settle in and meet with Googlers across the company.
2. Brown Previously Worked for Intel
Brown is a relative newcomer to the tech world. According to her LinkedIn page, she first worked as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago from 2000-2001. There, she was a mergers and acquisitions risk services manager.
After that, she worked as a senior financial analyst for Abbott Laboratories for two years and then worked in pharmaceuticals before attending graduate school in Michigan.
Brown’s first big career move was in 2009 when she worked as an associate of Intel’s accelerated leadership program in Santa Clara, California. She worked her way up in the company to a strategy manager for the human resource operations, and then was a product marketing manager before being promoted to a market development manager of the company’s intelligent systems group.
In July 2011, she worked in Intel’s executive leadership development department where she directed the company’s leadership program. Brown did that for about one year before being promoted once again, this time to the chief of staff of the HR department. In that role, she was responsible for the global operations of the company’s HR.
Brown worked as the HR department’s chief of staff for almost two years before receiving another promotion to the vice president of HR and the chief diversity and inclusion officer. She also served as a the chief of staff to Intel’s CEO. She worked in Santa Clara and did so for almost three years before finally landing the new gig at Google.
3. She Graduated From College in Michigan
Brown’s LinkedIn page says that she earned her bachelor’s degree from the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University in 1999. While she attended school there, she was part of the Spartan Ski Club, the sorority Beta Alha Psi and was also enrolle in the Michigan State Honors College.
Brown took a few years off before deciding to attend graduate school. She studied at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business and obtained her MBA in corporate strategy in 2008.
4. Brown Was Hired to Improve the Diversity Level at Google
The biggest reason Brown was hired by Google was because the company’s diversity level hasn’t changed much over the years.
It released a diversity report back in June, and it showed that not much has improved over a year.
About 69 percent of its employees are males, and 56 percent of them are white. Males also dominate leadership positions at Google, with 25 percent of women holding those jobs and another 20 percent of them holding engineering and programming positions — up 17 percent from the 2014 report.
The number of Hispanic employees at Google grew from 2015 to 2016, with them making up 4 percent of the workforce — a 1 percent rise. According to the report, black employees make up 5 percent of the workforce.
With the latest report, Google wanted to make strides to change those numbers, and that’s why Brown is in her position. The company has also tried to start a few programs to shift the figures.
Back in March, Google partnered with Howard University, a historically black college, to start a three-month summer program aimed at juniors and seniors at the school that’re studying computer science.
The program selected about 30 students to be part of the program, and those chosen received a stipend for housing and other costs for living in Silicon Valley for the three months.
5. Brown Has Competed in Ironman Races
Brown’s Facebook page shows many pictures of her traveling across the world and taking part in many different cultural activities. She was born in Detroit, Michigan and lived in Phoenix, Arizona prior to moving to California to work for Intel.
Other photos of Brown on her Facebook page show her competing in Ironman Triathlon races, which ask competitors to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full 26.2-mile marathon.
Brown’s athlete profile shows her first competing in a half-marathon in Kentucky in 2006, which she completed in just over 2 hours.
In her first Ironman Triathlon race in 2009, Brown crossed the finish line in 13 hours, 14 minutes and 33 seconds.