Google Employees Stage Worldwide Walkout
At 11:10 a.m. Thursday, in every time zone with participating offices, Google employees began walking off the job. They did so, walkout organizers write in New York Magazine’s The Cut, to protest “Google’s history of harassment, discrimination, [and] support for abusers” and to show solidarity with “the people whose lives and careers become collateral damage in the process.”
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on how Google protected an employee, Andy Rubin, dubbed “the father of the Android,” from accusations of sexual misconduct. Rubin had been having an extramarital affair with another employee, but had also coerced her into unwanted sex. Google, the Times reports, “investigated and concluded her claim was credible.” Rubin was asked to resign, but he did so with a lucrative exit package and celebration, complete with a statement from Google co-founder Larry Page.
In their article for The Cut, the organizers of Thursday’s protest explain that Rubin is not the only employee who has never faced consequences for his actions: “These stories are our stories. We share them in hushed tones to trusted peers, friends, and partners. There are thousands of us, at every level of the company. And we’ve had enough.”
They explain that the walkout, in which two-thirds of Google’s worldwide offices are participating, is a last resort. “We’ve waited for leadership to fix these problems, but have come to this conclusion: no one is going to do it for us. So we are here, standing together, protecting and supporting each other.”
Among their demands are an end to forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases, and the right of all Google employees to bring a companion of their choosing to meetings with human resources officials when filing any kind of claim, especially one involving harassment. They want equal pay for equal work and demand “[a] commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity, for example making sure there are women of color at all levels of the organization, and accountability for not meeting this commitment,” including transparent data on the company’s progress on meeting these goals.
Google employees also seek a public sexual harassment report, with complete data on how many claims are made and “how many victims and accused have left Google; any exit packages and their worth.”
Employees also are demanding a global process for reporting sexual harassment claims and new reporting structures that require the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the chief executive officer, as well as the appointment of an employee representative to Google’s board of directors.
Walkouts started in Asia on Thursday before spreading to other continents. As of 1 p.m. EDT, it was still unclear how many employees had walked away from their work in the United States, because many stayed inside their office buildings. But, the Times reported, protests had already taken place in “Singapore; Hyderabad, India; Berlin; Zurich; Dublin; London; and New York,” with more to come.
Strikers and organizers are adamant that temporary and contract workers be covered by their demands. Organizers emphasize that “the power structure that inherently diminishes” temps, vendors and contractors is “rooted in the same foundation of inequality.” As one employee told the Times, “That doesn’t get talked about enough in tech.”
At least one Google executive appeared supportive of the walkouts. “Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes,” Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, told the Times on Wednesday. “We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”
Read the organizers’ full demands here.Wait, before you go…
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