Thousands of Google workers walked out of offices around the world to protest on Thursday how the tech giant has handled sexual misconduct by some of its top executives.
Starting in Asia and spreading across Europe, photos posted with the hashtag Googlewalkout began flooding Twitter as employees gathered outside Google offices in Zurich, Dublin, Singapore, London and Hyderabad, India.
The employee group, Google Walkout For Real Change, said 47 offices worldwide were participating in the walkout onThursday.
The mass walkout was sparked by a recent New York Times report that said Google gave millions of dollars to some executives in secret exit packages after they were accused of sexual misconduct. The article, published last week, said Andy Rubin, the brainchild of the Android mobile software, was given a $90 million exit package after the company verified a misconduct claim against him was credible. Rubin said in response to the report that he “never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. Also, I am deeply troubled that anonymous Google executives are commenting about my personnel file and misrepresenting the facts.”
In online photos, Google employees could be seen making protest signs that read ‘Respect for Women’ and ‘Not Ok, Google.’
Streams of Google employees poured out of buildings at the company’s Mountain View, California, headquarters at 11 a.m. local time and headed toward the heart of the campus. The crowd was silent. One man held a sign that simply said, “5 Demands.”After a few minutes, a woman chanted “fight for women, fight for workers,” over a bullhorn. She said they were sending a message to leadership. The crowd of several hundred employees cheered.
In New York, hundreds of Google employees streamed out of the office in Chelsea and gathered in Hudson River Park, attracting dozens of onlookers, a swarm of television cameras and police officers.
About 1,000 Google workers in San Francisco swarmed into a plaza in front of the city's historic Ferry Building, chanting, "Women's rights are workers' rights!" Thousands turned out at Google's Mountain View, California, headquarters.
Women account for 31 percent of Google's employees worldwide, and it's lower for leadership roles. The numbers are similar elsewhere in Silicon Valley.
Google's CEO Sundar Pichai had assured employees earlier this week that the company would support them in their protest. He also apologized for Google's "past actions."
Google employees, who walked off the job to protest the internet company's lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct, listen to speakers during a protest rally in New York.
The group of workers who organised the walkout, called Google Walkout For Real Change, said they had five demands for the company.
They are demanding that Google end pay inequality and come clean about the number of harassment claims at the company. They said they wanted Google to end a policy of forced arbitration, which prohibits staff from suing in harassment cases, and to appoint an employee representative to its board.
In an announcement titled “Time’s Up at Google”, they said: “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 storm over sexual harassment follows a string of internal disputes at Google. In April, more than 3,000 Google employees signed a petition against the company's involvement with a US Department of Defence AI project that studies imagery that could be used for better targeting of air strikes.
Then, in September, Google confirmed that it was working on a search engine for use in China, which leaked documents had suggested would allow government censorship and tracking of citizens.