Google employees across the world staged a walkout on 1 November, to protest the company’s handling of the alleged sexual misconduct charges against big names in Google. Employees from Google offices across Zurich, Dublin, Singapore, London, Hyderabad, New York, Atlanta, Australia participated in this protest. According to an employee group, Google Walkout For Real Change, around 47 offices across the world participated in the walkout.
This isn’t the first time Google employees have protested. In the recent past, we have seen Google employees express their anger at Google’s efforts to get back into China by compromising on its values or trying to let the US Department of Defence use Google’s artificial intelligence, among other things.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a conference in New York spoke about the positive aspects of letting company employees register their protest, but stated that he was still in charge of the company and would not let things be swayed by constant employee uprisings.
“We don’t run the company by referendum. There are many good things about giving employees a lot of voice, out of that we have done well,” said Pichai, adding that while to outsiders it may look like things are chaotic inside Google, that isn’t really the case.
The demonstrations follow a New York Times report last week that said Google in 2014 gave a $90 million exit package to Android founder Andy Rubin after the then-senior vice president was accused of sexual harassment.
Rubin denied the allegation in the story, which he also said contained “wild exaggerations” about his compensation. Google did not dispute the report.
The report energised a months-long movement inside Google to increase diversity, improve treatment of women and minorities and ensure the company upholds its motto of “don’t be evil” as it expands.
Since its founding two decades ago, Google has been known around the world for its exceptional transparency with workers. Executives’ goals and insights into corporate strategy have been accessible to any employee. But organisers said Google executives, like leaders at other companies affected by the #metoo movement, have been slow to address some structural issues.
We, Google employees and contractors, will walkout on November 1 at 11:10am to demand these five real changes
Google claims that it has fired around 48 employees over the last two years without any kind of exit package after it was found that they were guilty of sexual misconduct.
Those Google employees who participated in the walkout protest were seen with placards reading ‘Respect for Women’, ‘Not OK, Google’ and so on. According to the Twitter handle for Google Walkout for Real Change, around five demands were put forth by the protestors including an end to a ‘Forced Arbitration’ clause which prevented employees from legally suing Google in cases of harassment and discrimination after they left the company, a commitment to end pay and opportunity disparity, among other things.