Earlier today over 20,000 Google workers and contractors orchestrated a mass global walkout to protest the company’s controversial handling of sexual misconduct allegations against its top executives. According to statistics from September 30th 2018, Google had 94,372 full-time contracted employees around the world. This means that over 20% of the company’s workforce participated in the walkout.
According to its organizers, the protest’s participants were mainly from the company’s US holdings, but also had smaller protests in Google offices located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Holland, The Philippines, United Kingdom, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The employees’ anger was spurred on by a recent op-ed by the New York Times on Google’s history with Android co-founder Andy Rubin. The NYT claimed that Rubin was given a $90 million settlement when he left the company after conclusive evidence emerged that he had committed sexual assault against a female employee at Google. Specifically, Rubin has been let off the hook after he coerced a female worker into giving oral sex. The excessive settlement payment coupled with a praiseworthy farewell at the time of his departure have left many of the employees with a sour view of Google’s management.
Chris Stapleton, one of the organizers, said:
“Google is famous for its culture, but in reality, we’re not even meeting the basics of respect, justice and fairness for every single person here.”
“We have the eyes of many companies looking at us,” Google employee Tanuja Gupta said in New York, according to the event organizers, who have assembled under the name Google Walkout for Real Change.
“We’ve always been a vanguard company, so if we don’t lead the way, nobody else will,” she continues.
In addition to the massive protest numbers (which were only publicly disclosed yesterday), walkout organizers claim that Google CEO Sundar Pichai has agreed to engage in a dialogue with them to “review a plan that would address five key demands.”
These demands include:
1) An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination
2) A commitment to “end pay and opportunity inequity”
3) A full sexual harassment transparency report that will be open to the public
4) An “inclusive process” for safe and anonymous reporting of sexual misconduct
5) A commitment to elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the Board of Directors.
6) An official employee representative to be appointed to their board
Pichai said in a statement that that the employees have “raised constructive ideas” and that “the company was taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”
However, in the era of #metoo, many are concerned that the company’s executives have been too slow in addressing this issue.