Google walkout: global protests after sexual misconduct allegations

  02 November 2018    Read: 1370
Google walkout: global protests after sexual misconduct allegations

Thousands of Google staff across the world have staged a series of walkouts in protest at claims of sexual harassment, gender inequality and systemic racism.

Demonstrations at the company’s offices around the world began at 11.10am in Tokyo and took place at the same time in other time zones.

They follow allegations of sexual misconduct made against senior executives, which organisers say are the most high-profile examples of “thousands” of similar cases across the company.

An image from the Singapore hub showed at least 100 staff protesting.

Greater numbers appeared on the streets outside Google’s Swiss office in Zurich, and there were protests in the Israeli city of Haifa and Berlin.

In London, the majority of employees left their desks and occupied the main auditorium in the company’s King’s Cross office. Once the room was filled, some gathered outside, as did a separate contingent of employees from the company’s AI subsidiary, DeepMind, prompting some confusion from those who did not recognise their corporate siblings.

“I’m here protesting against harassment in the workplace, to make sure we don’t protect or support those perpetrators of harassment,” onedemonstrator told Sky News. “People are supporting those who have been harassed in any workplace situation, by any employer, and this is just part of the movement.”

Employees were urged to leave a flyer at their desk that read: “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest [against] sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone.”

The Walkout for Real Change protest comes a week after it emerged that Google gave a $90m (£70m) severance package to Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile phone software, but concealed details of a sexual misconduct allegations that triggered his departure. Rubin has denied the allegations.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, insisted that the company had taken a “hard line” over sexual misconduct and would support employees who took part in the protests.

“Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward. We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action,” he said.

Campaigners have posted a list of five demands, including an end to pay and opportunity inequality as well as greater transparency about sexual harassment.

Speakers in a central courtyard flanked by glass-walled office buildings were ringed by several hundred people who packed concrete walkways, waded into flower beds and stood atop benches or low walls.

Around a central folding table, participants wrote signs with slogans like “Time’s Up for tech”, “Happy to quit for $90 million” and “Hey Google, do better”.

The crowd, heavy on jeans and Google-branded apparel, alternately cheered and booed as organizers read stories submitted by female employees, many anonymously. They alleged widespread sexual harassment, a pervasive gender gap in pay and at least one suspected attempted assault.

Individual speakers recounted sexual comments from superiors, and months- or years-long ordeals with human resources officials who often urged silence.

“I feel like I’m leading young girls and boys to the slaughter,” said one speaker, who identified herself as an employee who works on Android applications for children. “I mean, why would you want to go into tech if it’s like this?”

 

Read the original article on the Guardian.


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