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Google employees all over the world are participating in a walkout today. Starting in Tokyo, Google employees began leaving their offices at around 11 a.m. local time. The protest is circling the world as employees join forces to demand action from their company following numerous complaints of improper handling of sexual misconduct.
Wow. Story to watch today: Google employees all over the world walking out at 11 am local time to protest the company’s handling of sexual misconduct as revealed by @daiwaka and @ktbenner. Pics from #googlewalkout Dublin: https://t.co/dJBmuI4fdz— jodikantor (@jodikantor) November 1, 2018
The Google walkout was spurred by a report from the New York Times. The Times wrote about a $90 million exit package given to Android mobile software creator Andy Rubin after he was credibly accused by an employee of sexual misconduct. This example and others lead employees to flood from their offices on Thursday morning and take to the streets in protest.
Twitter user @CurryCathal posted a short video of employees heading out the doors of the Google building in Dublin. “Google workers here in Dublin walk out in protest against sexism, racism and unchecked executive power in the company,” he wrote.
In Zurich, @TedOnPrivacy wrote about Google employees sharing their stories as they stood in the cool November air. “People are sharing stories about harassment, microagressions (sic), inefficient process, broken culture, etc.,” he wrote. “Someone is explicitly pointing out the power imbalance between full-time employees and contractors, saying it’s more than time to reduce this gap.”
Someone is explicitly pointing out the power imbalance between full-time employees and contractors, saying it's more than time to reduce this gap— Ted (@TedOnPrivacy) November 1, 2018
In Singapore, dozens of employees gathered to converse about their common goal to reduce inequality in their workforce.
Employees participating in the walkout also released a list of demands. Among their requirements are “an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees,” and “a commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality.”
Employees also asked for “the elevation of the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the board of directors,” and “the appointment of an employee representative to the board.”
The tech industry has been hostile to female employees for years. Google is particularly at fault given its massive number of employees and numerous sexual misconduct claims. The Times reports that Google paid out millions of dollars in exit packages to high-level male executives accused of misconduct. On top of that, employees are upset over a number of other persistent issues, like Google’s AI work for the Pentagon and the development of a censored search engine for the Chinese government.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent out an internal email supporting the efforts of employees. He said managers “were aware of the activities planned for Thursday,” according to CNBC, and that they would receive the support they needed.
Walkouts like this have been very successful in the past, even if just in their ability to bring the complaints of employees into the spotlight. Google will be hard pressed to ignore such a massive show of solidarity from their workforce, but we have yet to see what changes they may make in response.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.