Saying yes to that question (and so it’s clear, choosing not to answer that question is the equivalent of saying yes to it) means a company should give up any notions of being diverse or inclusive. Saying “we want an environment that allows all opinions and a free exchange of ideas” to that question means a company has deemed racism and sexism viable opinions, worthy of being freely exchanged, instead of the hatred and bigotry that they are. That message will be heard loud and clear by the targets of said hatred and bigotry, and will be antithetical to any other attempts at building a diverse and inclusive company. Employees will tell their friends (or the media in this case) about what the company is really about, and any efforts at improving diversity will be hampered. Inclusion will be a non-starter, since employees cannot feel included in an environment where their peers believe they aren’t worthy of being there and will say so, freely. Employees cannot advance in a system that is built on peer evaluation if their peers believe them to be fundamentally subpar. Employees cannot feel a sense of belonging or, as Google itself told us, thrive in an environment when they do not feel psychologically safe.
Many behavioral psychology studies have shown that even when your life is improving in absolute terms, you see very little psychological benefit when your life isn’t improving as quickly as your neighbor. Your absolute size of the pie is less important than your relative slice of the pie (Christian Elger and Armin Falk — University of Bonn). This is why inequality is so damaging to the national psyche. The video below shows one monkey becoming irate as his neighbor receives more for the same work. Humans are not monkeys, but we share similar psychological patterns.