Google Walkout Underway Across The Globe, Thousands Protest Sexual Misconduct In The Workplace

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Starting in Tokyo at 11:10 a.m. on Thursday morning, Google employees began a staged walkout in protest of the lenient treatment of company executives accused of sexual harassment and misconduct, reports the Guardian.

All across the globe, staged demonstrations are set to take place in honor of The Walkout for Real Change protest. Images on social media show Google staff members already participating in the walkout in cities including Singapore, Zurich, London, and Dublin.

Employees participating in the walkout have been encouraged to leave a note in their absence reading, “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest [against] sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone.”

The Google Walkout demands five changes to take place within the company to address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace in addition to pay and opportunity inequality.

  1. An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees.
  2. A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
  3. A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
  4. A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
  5. Elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the board of directors. Appoint an employee rep to the Board.

The protest takes place a week after it was revealed that Google gave a $90 million severance package to Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, but did not detail a sexual misconduct allegation that was supposedly the reason he was fired.

After the Rubin story came out, other sexual allegations made against company executives began to surface. One such allegation, made against lab director Richard DeVaul, resulted in him staying on at the company. However, he resigned this week without a severance package.

Chief executive of Google Sundar Pichai has since spoken out in response to the accusations that Google is not adequately following through and taking action on sexual harassment allegations. He claimed that they are taking a “hard line” in relation to sexual misconduct in the workplace and claimed that 48 people have been fired in the past two years as a result of these allegations. However, the cases related to employee departure have not been reflected in the company’s earnings figures.

“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” Pichai wrote in a company-wide email this week. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society. and, yes, here at Google, too.”

Google and Alphabet employ 94,000 people all over the world.