Staff at Google offices around the world Thursday staged an unprecedented series of walkouts in protest at the company’s treatment of women.
The employees are demanding several key changes in how sexual misconduct allegations are dealt with at the firm, including a call to end forced arbitration—a move which would make it possible for victims to sue.
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai told staff he supports their right to take the action. “I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” he said in an all-staff email. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society… and, yes, here at Google, too.”
A Twitter feed titled @googlewalkout documented the movement at Google’s international offices. Google staff in Zurich, London, Tokyo, Singapore and Berlin were among those to take part. Anger at the firm has boiled over in the past week since the New York Times alleged that one high profile executive received a $90 million payout after he left the firm, despite what Google considered a “credible” allegation of sexual misconduct made against him. Andy Rubin, known as the “creator” of the Android mobile operating system, denies the allegation.
On Tuesday, another executive – this time from the company’s X research lab – also resigned. Richard DeVaul was said to have made unwanted advances towards a woman who was recently interviewed for a job in which she would have reported to DeVaul.
DeVaul has not commented since his resignation, but in the past called the incident an “error of judgement”.
At least 48 other employees have been sacked for sexual harassment without receiving a payout, Pichai told staff. He admitted the New York Times’ report had been “difficult to read”.
The staff are also making formal demands to Google’s management, including commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality; a publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report and a clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
They also want an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees. – AFP