Google employees all over the world are walking out Thursday to protest the company’s treatment of women, after an explosive New York Times report last week said the tech giant had, over 10 years, protected three executives accused of sexual misconduct.
In particular, the Times reported that Google had handed Andy Rubin, who created Android mobile software, a $90 million exit package in 2014 — even though he’d been asked to resign after an investigation found an allegation that Rubin had coerced a female Google employee into oral sex to be credible.
“When Google covers up harassment and passes the trash, it contributes to an environment where people don’t feel safe reporting misconduct,” Liz Fong-Jones, a Google engineer, told the Times after the story’s publication. “They suspect that nothing will happen or, worse, that the men will be paid and the women will be pushed aside.”
Each office is walking out at 11:10 a.m. local time. Employees based in cities like Singapore, Tokyo, Zurich, London, Berlin, and Dublin have all already walked out, according to a Twitter account called “Googlewalkout,” which is tracking the protest.
The staff participating in the walkout will leave a note on their desks demanding that Google to provide more public reporting on sexual harassment and offer a “clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously,” the BBC reported. The staffers also want Google to commit to ending pay inequality and forced arbitration, which requires employees to handle disputes internally instead of seeking outside legal help, among other demands.
After the publication of the New York Times article, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, and Eileen Naughton, vice president for people operations, sent an email to employees trying to reassure them that Google takes sexual harassment seriously. “We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work, and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately,” the pair wrote.
Google has fired 48 people for sexual harassment over the last two years, according to the email, and none had received an exit package or severance deal.
Rubin, 55, has said that he left Google on his own. “The New York Times story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation,” Rubin told the paper in a statement. “Specifically, I never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. These false allegations are part of a smear campaign by my ex-wife to disparage me during a divorce and custody battle.”