Thousands of Google Employees Walked Out to Protest Sexual Harassment
Workers protested Android creator Andy Rubin’s $90 million exit package.
Google employees around the world staged a universal walk out to protest how the company handles sexual misconduct on Thursday, according to ABC News.
The walkout follows a New York Times report that revealed that Android creator Andy Rubin received a $90 million exit package after being asked to resign because of sexual misconduct allegations. According to the report, Google kept Rubin and two other executives’ sexual misconduct allegations under wraps for the past decade.
About 1,500 people in two dozen offices around the world protested while using the hashtag #googlewalkout. Employees from London, India, Zurich, Atlanta, Dublin, Manhattan, Singapore, and more carried signs saying things like “Don’t Be Evil,” mocking one of Google’s famous mottos.
"You claim ‘don't be evil, change the world.’ Fine. Be better. Don't only be better, be as good as possible," Google Engineering Manager Raymond Blum told CNBC in New York.
The protest coincides with the worldwide #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, which also heavily uses social media to create awareness about the cause.
The #MeToo movement has sent shockwaves throughout the corporate world, where deeply ingrained patterns of abuse and coerced silence have been widely documented.
Rubin denies the allegations from the New York Times report, saying that he “never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. Also, I am deeply troubled that anonymous Google executives are commenting about my personnel file and misrepresenting the facts.”
Last year, Google was under scrutiny when former employee James Damore published an anti-diversity memo that argued men were psychologically and biologically better suited to work in the tech industry than women.
While Damore was eventually fired, protest organizers criticized Google for publicly celebrating diversity and inclusion without actually having it within the company. About 70% of Google employees are men and 53% are white, according to the company’s diversity statistics.
Google did, however, support its employees’ walkout on Thursday and listened to their concerns.
"We let Googlers know that we are aware of the activities planned for Thursday and that employees will have the support they need if they wish to participate,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a statement to CNN. “Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward. We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action."
Protestors are asking for Google to stop forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases, which requires employees to waive their right to sue the company and often uses confidentiality agreements. They are also fighting for equal pay and for Google to issue a clear, detailed report on sexual harassment within the company.
The protestors released an employee statement, saying, “This is part of a growing movement, not just in tech, but across the country, including teachers, fast food workers, and others who are using their strength in numbers to make real change. We know that it can be more difficult for other workers to stand up which is why we stand in solidarity with the temporary and contract workers here at Google, but we encourage everyone who feels this injustice to take collective action.”