Google Employees Stage Massive Walkout

November 2, 2018

Yesterday, we took a look at the thousands of Marriott employees who are currently striking against the hotel chain for improved wages and better working conditions. Shortly after we published that post, though, another major labor action began to take place at one of the world’s largest companies. Starting early Thursday morning, thousands of Google employees in offices across the globe walked off their jobs to protest the search giant’s handling of sexual assault claims.

A week before the walk off, the New York Times published an article detailing how the company had suppressed sexual assault allegations against several executives. In the most high profile incident, Google quietly fired Android-creator Andy Rubin after a misconduct investigation found that the allegations against him were credible. Along with receiving a warm public goodbye that didn’t mention the investigation, Rubin also walked away with a $90 million severance payment. Organizers of the walk off say that this incident and many others show the company’s “culture of complicity, dismissiveness, and support for perpetrators.”

“The [Times] article provided a narrow window into a culture we, as Google employees, know well,” wrote the organizers in a blog post that announced the protest. “These stories are our stories. We share them in hushed tones to trusted peers, friends, and partners. There are thousands of us, at every level of the company. And we’ve had enough.” Called the “Google Walkout for Real Change,” the protestors want to improve the process for reporting sexual harassment at the company and put an end to forced employee arbitration. Although it’s still too early to know how these changes will take place, CEO Sundar Pichai responded positively to the protests and appears to be taking their demands seriously. “Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward,” said Pichai. “We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”

Questions:

  1. Why did thousands of Google employees walk off their jobs in protest yesterday?
  2. What do you think Google can do in order to deal with allegations of misconduct in a more transparent manner?

Source: Taylor Telford and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Google Employees Worldwide Walk Out Over Allegations of Sexual Harassment, Inequality Within Company,” The Washington Post, November 1, 2018.

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