Google employees worldwide walked away from their desks Thursday in a mass protest against the company’s handling of sexual misconduct and it’s treatment of women. The outrage was sparked by a report in the New York Times last week that detailed the gentle ousting and big pay-out of Android developer Andy Rubin after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him.
Officially calling themselves the Google Walkout for Real Change, the employee exodus began at 11:10am local time in Tokyo and spread steadily across the globe to offices in Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, Berlin, London, Toronto, New York, California and more. The protesters are looking for a company response on five major points all dealing with the treatment of sexual harassment, gender equality and diversity.
— Google Walkout For Real Change (@GoogleWalkout) November 1, 2018
While the points around sexual misconduct unfortunately don’t come as much of a surprise after 13 months of the Me Too movement, some of the demands around equality might come as a shock. We think of Google and the tech industry as cutting edge and modern, but that often doesn’t extend to the workplace. Sexism, racism and pay inequality run rampant in Silicon Valley and the offices that stem from it.
Last week’s Times article detailed how Google and it’s founders “fostered a permissive workplace culture from the start” — often favouring the careers of men over those of women, allowing an environment where sexual misconduct could flourish, giving few avenues for victims to report harassment and taking little disciplinary action when incidents were brought to management’s attention.
The most significant revelation was that “The Father of Android,” Andy Rubin was paid $90 million in severance after being asked to step down when a woman brought credible allegations against him in 2013. The unnamed woman alleged that he forced her to perform oral sex on her in a hotel room. He denies the claims.
At the time Rubin left the company in 2014, Google CEO Larry Page congratulated him publicly on his legacy and wished him all the best. For the next four years, Rubin was paid $2 million a month by the company. There were also reports of other instances of workplace sexual harassment and abuse detailed in the report.
The Google Walkout is garnering huge support on social media from women’s group and organizations like Time’s Up while even employees working from home or taking time off are participating in some way. Affiliates like YouTube also saw their employees walk out.
In solidarity with the thousands of Google workers across the globe demanding change. Women and men in every industry from the farm fields to the tech field deserve
a safe, fair and dignified workplace. #GoogleWalkout #TIMESUP https://t.co/jp2YGdftYX
— TIME’S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) November 1, 2018
— WomensEqualityUK (@WEP_UK) November 1, 2018
I’m joining the #googlewalkout, which feels slightly odd as I’m working from home today. Still, tools down for a while in remote solidarity.
— Jon Skeet (@jonskeet) November 1, 2018
I’m not at work for the next while, so I can’t walk out of the office. Instead, here’s something from me in solidarity, at 11:10am local time in Thailand. #GoogleWalkout #TimesUp #MeToo pic.twitter.com/cZpyXVUl1A
— Liz Fong-Jones (@lizthegrey) November 1, 2018
— Matt Rafalow (@mrafalow) November 1, 2018
— Briana Wallace (@BrianaWallace) November 1, 2018