World Wide Google Staffers Protest Treatment of Women

Nov 1, 2018 – Thousands of Google employees across the world have walked off the job in protest at the internet giant’s lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.

Employees were seen staging walkouts at offices including New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Singapore, Toronto, London, Zurich and Dublin.


The Google protest billed “Walkout For Real Change”, is unfolding a week after a New York Times (NYT) story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin.

The report said Mr Rubin received a $US90 million severance package in 2014, even though Google concluded that sexual misconduct allegations against him were credible.

Mr Rubin derided the NYT story article as inaccurate and denied the allegations in a tweet.

About 1,000 Google workers in San Francisco swarmed into a plaza in front of the city’s historic Ferry Building, repeatedly chanting: “Women’s rights are workers’ rights!”

In New York City, women and men filed out of Google’s office and silently walked around the block for about 10 minutes. A few held sheets of paper with messages including “Respect for women”.

World Wide Google Staffers Protest Treatment of Women

“This is Google. We solve the toughest problems here,” said Thomas Kneeland, a software engineer who said he has been at Google for three years.

“We all know that the status quo is unacceptable, and if there is any company who can solve this, I think it is Google.”

The same NYT article also disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct by other executives, including Richard DeVaul, a director at the same Google-affiliated lab that created far-flung projects such as self-driving cars and internet-beaming balloons.

Mr DeVaul had remained at the “X” lab after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced about him a few years ago, but he resigned on Tuesday without severance, Google confirmed on Wednesday.

Employees implore Google to not be ‘evil’

World Wide Google Staffers Protest Treatment of Women

Many employees carried signs with slogans such as “Not OK Google” and “Don’t be evil” — the company’s one-time motto.

In an unsigned statement from organizers of the mass walkout, sent from a company account, protesters called for an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination.

They also want Google to commit to ending pay inequity and to create a publicly disclosed sexual harassment report and a clearer process for reporting complaints.

The organizers said Google has publicly championed diversity and inclusion but has not taken enough action.

The protests are the latest backlash against men’s exploitation of female subordinates in business, entertainment, technology and politics.

In Silicon Valley, women also are becoming fed up with the male-dominated composition of the technology industry’s workforce — an imbalance that critics say fosters frat-house behavior by men.

World Wide Google Staffers Protest Treatment of Women

Google chief Sundar Pichai apologized for the company’s “past actions” in an email sent to employees on Tuesday.

“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” Mr Pichai wrote.

“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.”

The email did not mention the reported incidents involving Mr Rubin, Mr DeVaul or anyone else, but Mr Pichai did not dispute anything in the NYT story.

In an email sent last week, Mr Pichai and Eileen Naughton, Google’s executive in charge of personnel issues, sought to reassure employees that the company had cracked down on sexual misconduct since Mr Rubin’s departure four years ago.

Among other things, Mr Pichai and Ms Naughton disclosed that Google had fired 48 employees, including 13 senior managers, for sexual harassment in recent years, without providing severance packages.

But Thursday’s walkout could signal a significant number of the 94,000 employees working for Google and its corporate parent Alphabet Inc. remained unconvinced the company was doing enough to adhere to Alphabet’s own edict urging all employees to “do the right thing”.

A Silicon Valley congresswoman tweeted her support of the Google walkout using the “#metoo” hashtag that has become a battle cry for women fighting sexual misconduct across the world.

World Wide Google Staffers Protest Treatment of Women

“Why do they think it’s OK to reward perpetrators and further violate victims?” asked Jackie Speier, who represents an affluent district where many of Google’s employees live.

Latest trouble for Internet giant

The latest complaints from employees are part of a wider discontent at Google and other Silicon Valley companies, though many of the complaints been discussed at internal company town halls, message boards and petitions that got leaked.

In August, more than 1,000 Google employees signed a letter protesting the company’s plan to build a search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship rules.

Earlier, thousands of people signed a petition asking Mr Pichai to cancel Project Maven, which provides the Pentagon with the company’s artificially intelligent algorithms to interpret video images and improve the targeting of drone strikes.

Google later said it would not renew the contract, according to published reports.

Mary Greeley News