A recent New York Times expose put Google in the spotlight by revealing that several Google executives had been protected from sexual misconduct allegations with some even leaving with huge monetary exit packages.
Many Google employes were outraged by the report and decided to stage a walk out in protest of how the company is handling sexual misconduct.
Hundreds of employees walked out on November 1st from over 20 offices around the world. The message was to show Google its transparency when it comes to how it handles sexual misconduct allegations.
The demonstration on November 1st began at 11:10 a.m. local time for each office.
According to the New York Times report, Andy Rubin, who created the Android, was one of the employees to leave with a $90 million exit package despite being asked to resign over credible sexual misconduct claims. A spokesperson for Rubin had denied the allegations and said his reported compensation was a “wild exaggeration.”
“While Google has championed the language of diversity and inclusion, substantive actions to address systemic racism, increase equity, and stop sexual harassment have been few and far between,” the employee statement reads. “ENOUGH. Reassuring PR won’t cut it: we need transparency, accountability, and structural change.”
CEO Sundar Pichai had sent a memo to employees days before the protest, stating that 48 people had been fired, including 13 senior managers, in the last two years without exit packages. He also sent a follow-up note reiterating his apology “for the past actions and the pain they have caused employees” and offered his support to the employees.
20,000 participants walked out on Friday the next day. Open Research Group founder Meredith Whittaker said “Google paying $90M to Andy Rubin is one example among thousands, which speak to a company where abuse of power, systemic racism, and unaccountable decision-making are the norm.”
According to another organizer named Celie O’Neil-Hart, “We are building on the work of others at Google who have been advocating for structural change for years.”
While many others who have raised alerts about the company’s culture are no longer with Google, now we’ll all see how executives respond to the listed demands:
An end to Forced Arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees, along with a right for every Google worker to bring a co-worker, representative, or supporter of their choosing when meeting with HR, especially when filing a harassment claim.
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. This must be accompanied by transparent data on the gender, race and ethnicity compensation gap, across both level and years of industry experience, accessible to all Google and Alphabet employees and contractors. Such data must include, but may not be limited to: information on relative promotion rates, under-leveling at hire, the handling of leaves, and inequity in project and job ladder change opportunities. The methods by which such data was collected and the techniques by which it was analyzed and aggregated must also be transparent.
A publicly-disclosed sexual harassment transparency report, including: the number of harassment claims at Google over time and by product area, the types of claims submitted, how many victims and accused have left Google, and any exit packages and their worth.
A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously. The process today is not working in no small part because HR performance is assessed by senior management and directors, forcing them to put management’s interests ahead of employees reporting harassment and discrimination. The improved process should also be accessible to all: full-time employees, temporary employees, vendors, and contractors alike. Accountability, safety and an ability to report unsafe working conditions should not be dictated by employment status.
A commitment to 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. Both the CDO and the Employee Representative should help allocate permanent resources for demands 1–4 and other equity efforts, ensure accountability to these demands, and suggest propose changes when equity goals are not met.