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20,000 Google Employees Walkout to Protest Company’s Treatment of Women

“There’s a time where the rubber meets the road, and showing up to something that’s this important and meaningful has impact.”

Over 20,000 Google employees held a global walkout on Thursday to protest the way the company treats women. More than 3,000 employees alone gathered in a park in New York, carrying signs and chanting. But New York wasn’t the only city where employees gathered. Staff members from London, Dublin, Seattle, Berlin and a myriad of other cities gathered to protest the way the company recently handled a case of sexual harassment.


Google Payouts Spark Anger

Anger was sparked earlier in the week when “creator” of Android mobile software Andy Rubin allegedly received a $90 million payout after leaving the company, although at the time Google considered a sexual misconduct allegation against him “credible.” Google did not disclose the allegation – it became public when published in a New York Times article on October 25, 2018. The high-profile executive denies the accusation.

Richard DeVaul, another Google executive, resigned on Tuesday after allegedly making unwanted advances towards a woman during an interview. The woman would have reported directly to DeVaul. Although Mr. DeVaul has not commented on his resignation, he has referred to the incident as an “error of judgement [sic].”

Claire Stapleton, a marketing manager from YouTube as well as an organizer for the walkout, told NPR, “We’ve always been told that Google is a leading-edge company, that our culture is something really special. And in that way, we totally have the space to walk out and do this today. But we also see some very real changes that need to happen.”

Google Staff Demand Changes in the Workplace

Staff members left notes on their desks, explaining their reasons for the walkout to their coworkers: “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.”

Employees have also made several demands of Google:

  1. A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality
  2. A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report
  3. A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously
  4. The elevation of the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO, and make recommendations directly to the board of directors
  5. The appointment of an employee representative to the board
  6. An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees

Google recruiter Nick Strohecker, who helped with crowd control in New York, showed his support: “There’s a time where the rubber meets the road, and showing up to something that’s this important and meaningful has impact.”

For many Google employees, the issue goes beyond sexual harassment. It’s about increasing equity, addressing systemic racism, and equalizing the workforce gender makeup. Currently, only 25 percent of the executives and 31 percent of the workforce at Google are female.

Staff members hope to see positive changes in the Google workplace because of the walkout. Stapleton reported that her faith in the company has been restored as a result of the past week.

“We have tremendous allies. I mean, we immediately took the name ‘women’ out of the walkout because we had so much support from men. And we wanted this to feel really inclusive, and for this to be about a bigger thing than one executive payout,” Stapleton said.

She continued, “I think if change can happen anywhere I hope it’s here.”

Leighanna Shirey

Leighanna graduated with a degree in English from Pensacola Christian College. After teaching high school English for five years, she decided to pursue her dream of writing and editing. When not working, she enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time with her dogs, and drinking way too much coffee.

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