Employees are walking out of Google offices worldwide in protest today as a storm around the company’s handling of sexual harassment cases continues to gather strength. Organizers of the Google Walkout for Real Change tell The New York Times that more than 1,500 employees, mostly women, are planning to walk out from more than 60 percent of Google’s offices at 11:10AM as timezones roll around the world.
“We don’t want to feel that we’re unequal or we’re not respected anymore,” said Claire Stapleton, a YouTube product marketing manager, to the Times. “Google’s famous for its culture. But in reality we’re not even meeting the basics of respect, justice and fairness for every single person here.”
The walkout is already taking place in Asian countries, where the Thursday work day is well underway. Photos of walkouts from the Tokyo and Singapore offices have been posted to the organizers’ official Twitter and Instagram accounts. Employees are using the hashtag #GoogleWalkout.
The walkout organizers are demanding that Google make five concrete changes to its company policy:
- 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.
This is the flyer that employees who choose to walk out will be leaving at their desk:
The primary catalyst for the protest among employees has been the fallout around allegations surrounding Android co-founder Andy Rubin, who left the company in 2014. The New York Times reported that Alphabet CEO Larry Page, who headed Google before its reorganization, asked Rubin to resign following claims that he had coerced an employee into performing oral sex on him in a hotel room the previous year. Rubin received a $90 million exit package that Google wasn’t obligated to grant, according to the Times, along with a supportive statement from Page.
Former SVP of search Amit Singhal was similarly reported to have received an exit package worth millions after leaving amid allegations of sexual misconduct, while Google X director Rich DeVaul was allowed to keep his job when Google decided to take ”appropriate corrective action” following claims made by a prospective employee. DeVaul resigned earlier this week after being named in the Times’ story.
Current Google CEO Sundar Pichai and VP of people operations Eileen Naughton responded last week by saying that Google has fired 48 people for sexual harassment in the past two years without giving any of them exit packages, but didn’t deny any of the alleged details in the Times’ report. Rubin said the story included “numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation” and refuted the central allegation of coercive oral sex.
We’ll be updating this story with developments as Google employees walk out around the world.