We all know white men can’t jump, thanks to the hit Hollywood movie. We also know white men often don’t know when it’s best to SHUT UP and listen, especially if a woman is talking.

Diversity in the high-tech sector is a hot issue these days – and deservedly so. But an incident at South by Southwest on Monday with a Google diversity exec calling out her company’s chair Eric Schmidt for rudeness during a panel discussion on diversity shows we white males still have a l-o-o-o-n-g way to go.

Kudos to Amanda Marcotte of Mashable for reporting on the regrettable incident, which also was documented by The Wall Street Journal.

Here are some of the scathing headlines their coverage triggered:

  • Google executive Eric Schmidt, man, makes total ass of himself at SXSW (The Verge)
  • Google Exec Eric Schmidt Called Out for Interrupting the Only … (Time)
  • Google’s Eric Schmidt Called Out For Repeatedly Interrupting … (CBS local)
  • Lean back, Eric Schmidt! How interrupting men & unconscious bias … (Salon)

Remember when Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella was called out for his talking down to women about seeking pay raises? Humbled, he apologized.

Wonder if Schmidt will?

Marcotte reported:

“On Monday, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and acclaimed Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson were wrapping up a SXSW Interactive panel that had focused on diversity, when an audience member called out the two men for repeatedly interrupting their fellow panelist, the United States’ Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.

“Even more awkward? The audience member who posed the question was apparently Judith Williams, who heads up Google’s unconscious bias program.”

Common courtesy, please! Let alone diversity.

Marcotte included several “tweets” about the incident.

Maybe someone in the audience should have just said:

“Why don’t you two just shut up and let Megan finish a thought for once!”

The topic of the panel wasn’t diversity per se but “How Innovation Happens.”

It happens in one big way: When people are allowed to contribute ideas and the “suits” – still while males, most of the time – listen.

“Both men interrupted Smith several times — not unusual for moderated panels — but Williams felt it was particularly poignant given the day’s topic of diversity,” Marcotte report. “During a Q&A session with the audience, Williams, who is Google’s Global Diversity and Talent Programs manager, asked both men if they thought their interruptions were a sign of the unconscious bias they themselves had been talking about.”


“Given that unconscious bias research tells us that women are interrupted a lot more than men, I’m wondering if you are aware that you have interrupted Megan many more times,” [Williams] asked, which immediately prompted a round of cheers and applause from the packed room.”

So how did Schmidt respond?

“It’s an interesting thing, unconscious bias,” Marcotte quoted Smith as saying. “It’s something we all have and it’s something we have to really debug.”

Amen – again.

How can companies ever truly diversify, embracing women and minorities at all levels if the people at the top can’t be polite?

Read the full story at: http://mashable.com/2015/03/16/google-schmidt-unconscious-bias/#:eyJzIjoidCIsImkiOiJfcW03cW56c3BkeDlieWtraiJ9