An estimated 20,000 employees from Google offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Singapore, and many more locations have walked out in protest of the company culture of protecting executives who have been accused of sexual misconduct. The walkouts began following the New York Times release of the story How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’; which, revealed Rubin was paid $90 million in an exit package and installments of approximately $2 million monthly for four years following his praised dismissal back in 2014, while hiding his confirmed case of sexual misconduct. With a weak response to the story from directors, employees began expressing their discontent with how Google has not only protected these executives, but also their mistreatment of women and minorities. As the number of employees walking out gained support, the organizers set a list of five real life change demands:
- An end to Forced Arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination.
- A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
- A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
- A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
- Elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the Board of Directors. In addition, appoint an Employee Representative to the Board.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Larry Page have apologized to their employees for issues that have been raised. CEO Pichai has expressed his approval of the walkouts and responded to his employees in an email: “Some of you have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies going forward…I’m taking in all of your feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”
Photo Taken By: Briana Wallace (Twitter: @BrianaWallace)
On November 8th, Google announced several changes have been made to internal policies; One being the change demand of no longer forcing their employees with sexual misconduct claims into arbitration. Google will also be releasing the number of sexual harassment claims within its Internal Investigations report, but will not make the information public. Pichai has pledged to update their sexual harassment training requiring the training to be held annually; and, Google will offer better care and resources for their staff such as counseling and career support for employees filing concerns.
Although not all demands have not been met, Google has been set to host multiple meetings with their employees to further discuss changes.
Pichai wrote in a note to employees ahead of the first meeting: “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that” and “It’s clear we need to make some changes.”