On Thursday, Google employees around the globe walked out of their offices to protest the manner in which the company has dealt with sexism, racism, and sexual assault allegations. The walkouts began in Asia and were quickly followed by other offices around the world, including San Francisco and New York. Each protest was staged for 11:10 a.m in local time zones.
The walkouts come after a recent New York Times report that revealed Google has protected multiple high-level men who have been accused of sexual assault, one being Andy Rubin who is the creator of Android. Rubin made headlines when he left the company in 2014 as Google praised him for all he had accomplished. The tech giant made no mention of the fact that an employee accused Rubin of pressuring her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2013, which led to his resignation. Rubin was also paid a $90 million exit package. Two other men were accused of workplace misconduct, one was fired but also received an exit package while the other maintained a high-level position at the company.
Rubin denied this claim, calling it a smear campaign orchestrated by his ex-wife to make him look bad during their divorce and battle for custody. These accusations surfaced in 2017 but there was no information about the specific accusation nor the exit package.
The organizers of the protest wrote a piece for New York Magazine to list their demands: ending pay and opportunity inequality; releasing a transparent report on the number of harassment claims at the organization; updating the process to how sexual misconduct is reported at the company; and other actions related to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Google management sent out an email to all employees after the investigation surfaced and said they are “dead serious” about maintaining a safe and inclusive workplace environment.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressed his support of the walkout, saying the company will back all employees who choose to participate in the protests. He furthermore stated Google will take into consideration all concerns raised by employees and will create concrete plans on how to tackle the issues at hand.
This walkout reflects the #MeToo movement, in which survivors of sexual assault and harassment have taken to social media to raise awareness about the prevalence of violence against women, especially in the workplace. Of the women who reported unwanted sexual advances at work, 80 percent said it constituted as sexual harassment and one-third say it constituted as sexual abuse. That means that 33 million U.S. women were sexually harassed and 14 million women were sexually abused at worked. 95 percent of women who have experienced unwanted sexual advances at work say that male harassers typically go unpunished.
Media Resources: CNN 11/1/18; The Huffington Post 11/1/18; The New York Times 10/25/18; The Information 11/28/17; The Cut 11/1/18; Feminist Newswire 10/7/17