Google Employees Walk Off The Job In Protest Over Sexual Harassment

Hundreds of Google employees and contractors across the world have staged mass walkouts amid complaints of sexism, racism and unchecked executive power.

Employees from the New York, London, Singapore, Toronto, Zurich, Dublin and Tokyo offices were seen staging walkouts on Thursday.

The "Walkout For Real Change" comes just a week after a New York Times report that said in 2014 Google gave a $90 million exit package to Andy Rubin after the then-senior vice president was accused of sexual harassment.

Rubin denied the allegation in the story, which he also said contained “wild exaggerations” about his compensation. Google did not dispute the report.

The report energised a months-long movement inside Google to increase diversity, improve treatment of women and minorities and ensure the company upholds its motto of “don’t be evil” as it expands.

Employees and walkout organisers called on Google parent Alphabet Inc to add an employee representative to its board of directors and internally share pay-equity data.

They also asked for changes to Google’s human resources practices intended to make bringing harassment claims a fairer process.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a statement that “employees have raised constructive ideas” and that the company was “taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”

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Much of the organising earlier this year was internal, including petition drives, brainstorming sessions with top executives and training from the workers’ rights group Coworker.org.

On Thursday, employees posted on social media about the walkout and delivered speeches in public plazas.

Since its founding two decades ago, Google has been known around the world for its exceptional transparency with workers. Executives’ goals and insights into corporate strategy have been accessible to any employee.

But organisers said Google executives, like leaders at other companies affected by the #metoo movement, have been slow to address some structural issues.

“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,” organisers stated.

They said Google must publicly report its sexual harassment statistics and end forced arbitration in harassment cases. In addition, they asked that the chief diversity officer be able to directly advise the board.