5 min read

More than 1500 Google employees, around the world, are planning to walk out of their respective Google offices today, to protest against Google’s handling of sexual misconduct within the workplace, according to the New York Times. This is a part of the “women’s walkout” that was organized by more than 200 Google engineers, earlier this week as a response to Google’s handling of sexual misconduct in the recent past, that employees found as inadequate.

The planning for the walkout was done last Friday, where Claire Stapleton, product marketing manager at Google’s YouTube created an internal mailing list to organize the walkout according to the New York Times. As the walkout was organized, more than 200 employees had joined in over the weekend, which has since grown to more than 1,500.

The organizers took to Twitter, yesterday, to lay out five demands for change within the workplace.

The protest has already started at Google’s Tokyo and Singapore office. Google employees and contractors, across the globe, will be leaving work at 11:10 AM in their respective time zones.  

Here are some glimpses from the walkout:

The demands laid out by the Google employees are as follows:

  • An end to Forced Arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees. This means that Google should no longer require people to waive their right to sue. In fact, every co-worker should be given the right to bring a co-worker, representative, or supporter of their choice when meeting with HR for filing a harassment claim.
  • A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity. This includes making sure that there are women of color at all the levels of the organization. There should also be transparent data on the gender, race, and ethnicity compensation gap, across both level and years of industry experience.  The methods and techniques that have been used to aggregate such data should also be transparent.
  • A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report. This includes the number of harassment claims at Google over time, types of claims submitted, how many victims and accused have left Google, details about exit packages and their worth.
  • A clear, uniform, and globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously. This is because the current process in place is not working. HR’s performance is assessed by senior management and directors, which forces them to put the management’s interest ahead of the employees that report harassment and discrimination. Accountability, safety, and ability to report regarding unsafe working conditions should not be dictated by the employment status.
  • Elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the Board of Directors. Appoint an Employee Rep to the Board.

The frustration among the Google employees surfaced after the New York Times report brought to light the shocking allegations against Andy Rubin’s (creator of Android) sexual misconduct at Google. As per the report, Rubin was accused of misbehavior in 2014 and the allegations were confirmed by Google. Due to this, he was asked to leave by former Google CEO, Mr.Page, but what’s discreditable is the fact that Google paid him $90 million as an exit package. Moreover,  he also received a high profile well-respected farewell by Google in October 2014.

Also, the fact that senior executives such as Drummond, Chief Legal Officer, Alphabet, who were mentioned in the NY times report for indulging in “inappropriate relationships” within the organization continues to work in highly placed positions at Google and haven’t faced any real punitive action by Google for their past behavior.

“We don’t want to feel that we’re unequal or we’re not respected anymore. Google’s famous for its culture. But in reality, we’re not even meeting the basics of respect, justice, and fairness for every single person here”, Stapleton told the NY Times.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai had sent an email to all the Google employees, last Thursday, clarifying that the company has fired 48 people over the last two years for sexual harassment, out of whom, 13  were “senior managers and above”. He also mentioned how none of them received any exit packages.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, further apologized in an email obtained by Axios this Tuesday, saying that the “apology at TGIF didn’t come through, and it wasn’t enough”. Pichai also mentioned that he supports the engineers at Google who have organized a “walkout”.

“I am taking in all your feedback so we can turn these ideas into action. We will have more to share soon. In the meantime, Eileen will make sure managers are aware of the activities planned for Thursday and that you have the support you need”, wrote Pichai.

The very same day, news of Richard DeVaul, a director at unit X of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) whose name was also mentioned in the New York Times report, resigning from the company came to light. DeVaul had been accused of sexually harassing Star Simpson, a hardware engineer. DeVaul did not receive any exit package on his resignation.

Public response to the walkout has been largely positive:

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Tech writer at the Packt Hub. Dreamer, book nerd, lover of scented candles, karaoke, and Gilmore Girls.