Google employees from around the world are staging walkouts to protest the company’s handling of sexual misconduct claims against senior executives. The protest occurred Nov. 1 at locations around the globe including Singapore, Tokyo, London and Dublin.
The walkouts were organized following a New York Times report about sexual assault claims involving the company’s creator of Android mobile software, Andy Rubin. According to the report, Google chief Larry Page sang Rubin’s praise when Rubin left the company in 2014 with a $90 million package paid in installments of about $2 million a month over four years.
What Google didn’t disclose at the time was that Rubin was kicked out of the company for alleged sexual misconduct. The company also wasn’t obligated to pay Rubin a dime under those circumstances.
According to the New York Times, a woman who had been having an extramarital affair with Rubin claimed that he lured her into his hotel room in 2013 and made her perform oral sex. Google investigated the claim and found it credible enough to give Rubin his walking papers.
The company also allegedly protected two other Google executives accused of sexual misconduct, and paid them millions after they left the company. Meanwhile, Google continued to hold its silence on the events.
Google’s Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai, and vice president of people operations, Eileen Naughton, sent an email to employees saying Google was “dead serious” about providing a “safe and including workplace” for employees. The email also said that it had fired 48 employees without pay for sexual misconduct within the past two years. Pichai also said he supported the employees’ protest.
“Earlier this week, we let Googlers know that we are aware of the activities planned for today and that employees will have the support they need if they wish to participate,” Pichai said in an emailed statement. “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.”
Despite these efforts, employees are still angry, and are calling on Google to make serious changes including ending forced arbitration on cases of harassment and discrimination, ending pay and opportunity inequity, publicly disclosing sexual harassment transparency reports, establishing a new process for reporting sexual misconduct, and elevating the company’s chief diversity officer to report to the company CEO and make recommendations to the board of directors. Employees are also asking for an employee representative to sit on Google’s board.