Google staff walk out over sexual misconduct

Google workers around the world will conduct a walkout today in protest of the company’s approach towards sexual misconduct.

Google staff walk out over sexual misconduct

The walkout will occur at 11.10am for each office’s timezone, and workers taking part are intending to leave a note on their desks saying: “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone.”

Those partaking are seeking to bring an end to forced arbitration, which is the settlement of a dispute outside of the courts. Forced arbitration is beneficial to large companies as they can avoid the negative publicity that comes from long, drawn-out court disputes.

It’s expected that hundreds of Google workers from 20 offices around the world will take part in the walkout. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, sent a personal memo to all staff saying that he supported their right to take action. In the same memo he said that this is an issue Google is taking seriously and that over the past two years the company has dismissed 48 staff without pay, including 13 senior managers, for instances of misconduct.

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The Google walkout follows an article released in The New York Times last week that accused the company of covering up sexual misconduct on multiple occasions. The primary focus was Andy Rubin, creator of the Android mobile operating system, who left back in October 2014 with high praise from Google founder Larry Page. According to The Times, Rubin was actually asked to resign after an employee accused him of sexual harassment.  

Allegedly, Rubin was paid $90 million despite evidence for the misconduct withstanding scrutiny – and The Times goes on to state that this isn’t the first instance where the tech giant has done something like this. Over the past decade, Google has chosen to make payments to two senior executives for similar situations in an effort to keep these incidents under wraps.

Google has always presented itself as a company that champions equality for all. Just this week, it posted a video showing support for US National Disability Awareness month. The video showcased workers developing technology to make the world more accessible.

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As well as an end to forced arbitration, those walking out this morning are also calling for an end to pay and opportunity inequality; a publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report; an easy and company-wide adopted method for reporting future instances of sexual misconduct; the elevation of a chief diversity of officer to report to the CEO; and, finally, the appointment of an employee representative to the board.

These demands are even more understandable when one notes the most recent Google diversity stats reveal that 70% of Google staff and that three-quarters of the Google leadership are male.

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