Google employees in various countries around the world walked out of their offices on Thursday protesting how the tech giant has handled cases of sexual harassment in the past. The demos were dubbed “Google Walkout.” They were in response to a report by the New York Times that detailed years of sexual harassment allegations in the company and yet no real action was taken. Executives mentioned in some of these scandals, in fact, went on to get hefty severance packages. The New York Times also noted that the way Google handled investigations into the allegations was shrouded in darkness and lacked transparency.
Walkouts were reported in India, Turkey, Japan, the US and other Google offices worldwide. However, a much bigger protest was reported in Zurich, Switzerland. All staffers walked out at exactly 11.10 AM local time. According to social media posts, it seems the employees want an end to the forced arbitration practice that has been used so far by the company to handle cases of sexual assault. The employees are also calling for other far-reaching changes in the way the company handles these issues. The protesters added that they were walking out in support to all former and current Google employees who have been sexually harassed in one way or another at any Google workplace. They also noted that they will continue to put more pressure on the company to ensure that perpetrators are punished for their actions and not rewarded.
The walkouts have been supported by Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai. A statement released by his office said that the company is aware of the planned walkouts and that it fully supports the initiative. The statement also noted that so far employees have been able to raise a number of constructive ideas that will help the company improve its policies on sexual harassment. Google added that the feedback given by employees on this matter will be taken very seriously and more action will be taken very soon.
The New York Times investigation has generated backlash towards the tech company. The way sexual harassment scandals have been handled according to the report leaves a lot to be desired. The report noted that Google stayed silent for years even when sexual harassment complaints were brought forward about three top executives. Some of the people mentioned included Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, who left the company in 2014. Google said at the time that it had investigated Rubin for an inappropriate relationship at the workplace.
Despite these allegations, it’s reported by the New York Times that Rubin received nearly $90 million as part of an exit package when he left Google. The Android founder had been accused of having an affair with an employee at the company and at some point forced her to perform oral sex in a hotel room. The Google investigation found the allegation credible and the company CEO at the time Larry Page requested Rubin’s resignation. However, the former executive has said through his lawyer that these allegations are false. Richard DeVaul, an executive at Google X, also resigned earlier this week for similar allegations.