Amidst the #MeToo Movement, thousands of workers have risen in protest against Google’s mishandling of sexual harassment cases and male-dominated culture. Google is now promising to reform its processes for cases of harassment and discrimination.
Thousands of Employees Participate in Global Walkout
Google employees participated in a universal walkout at Google offices worldwide, protesting the company’s poor management of sexual harassment claims. The walkout was incited a week after the New York Times published an investigative report outlining sexual assault accusations against Android creator Andy Rubin. Google verified the allegations against Rubin and then urged his resignation, giving him a $90 million severance package. His misconduct was hidden from public news about his departure.
Google employees are outraged, particularly those who have endured sexual harassment or gender discrimination. The protest included an estimated 17,000 workers around the world, beginning in Tokyo and continuing to Singapore, Dublin, London, Berlin, Zurich and New York.
Twitter was abuzz with the happenings of the protest, as @GoogleWalkout and #GoogleWalkout followed the walkout around the world. Employees stormed near Google’s global headquarters in Mountain View, California, and into central plaza near the building that stationed Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Protestors chanted and held signs with phrases such as “Stand up for Google women” and “Google men stand with Google women.”
Google Employees Demand End of Forced Arbitration
Google employees distributed a list of demands for Pichai and Google co-founder Larry Page that included a demand to end forced arbitration in cases of sexual assault and harassment. This means that during arbitration, the reporting individual must waive the right to sue and potentially abide by a confidentiality agreement.
The list of demands includes:
- Ending forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination
- Ending unequal pay and opportunity
- Creating a publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report
- Establishing a clear, uniform, globally-inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously
- Elevating the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the Board of Directors
- Appointing an Employee Representative to the Board
Google Promises to Reform Its Policies
On Thursday November 8, 2018, Google announced it will reform its policies for handling cases of sexual misconduct and discrimination. “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email to employees Thursday. “It’s clear we need to make some changes.”
When it comes to employee discrimination, Google has openly recognized that its workforce is unfairly divided, as white and Asian men have the highest paying executive jobs. Women only account for 31 percent of employees worldwide, with even fewer female leadership roles. Google will now require at least one female or non-Asian minority to be included as candidates for executive roles.
Under heat from protestors, Google has already met several of their demands:
- Forced arbitration is no longer required for sexual assault claims
- The company will consolidate reporting channels for misconduct complaints with a dedicated website and live support that offers counseling and career assistance
- Google will provide internal reports to all employees regarding sexual misconduct cases, including the amount of cases and type of punishment imposed
- Mandatory sexual harassment training will be updated and expanded to outline consequences for those who do not complete it
- Google is committing to its objectives for diversifying staff and inclusion for 2019
Still to be answered are the demands to end unequal pay and the appoint an employee representative to the board of directors.
Google has fired 48 employees over the past two years for sexual harassment. Pichai said Google is “dead serious” about making the company a safe and inclusive workplace.