Google employees around the world walked out of their offices on Thursday, November 1, in a global protest the internet giant’s lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct, CNN reports.
Google staff in Singapore, Zurich, London, Tokyo, Berlin and New York were among those to take part.
— Ted (@TedOnPrivacy) November 1, 2018
The protest, scheduled for Thursday at 11:10 A.M. local time across the globe and dubbed “Google Walkout For Real Change,” follows an outcry over a New York Times investigation detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about creator of Google’s Android software, Andy Rubin. The investigation detailed years of sexual harassment allegations, multimillion-dollar severance packages for accused executives, and a lack of transparency over the cases.
Rubin denied the allegations in a tweet, saying the article contained “numerous inaccuracies” and “wild exaggerations.”
However, the Times uncovered new details, including a reported $90 million exit package that Rubin is said to have been granted when he departed the company. The Times reported that Rubin was accused of coercing a female employee, with whom he’d been having affair, into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013. A Google investigation found her claim to be credible and then-CEO Larry Page asked Rubin to resign, according to the Times.
The same story also disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct of other executives, including Richard DeVaul, a director at the same Google-affiliated lab that created far-flung projects such as self-driving cars and Internet-beaming balloons. DeVaul had remained at the “X” lab after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced about him a few years ago, but he resigned Tuesday without severance, Google confirmed Wednesday, October 31.
CNN reports that Rubin’s lawyer Sam Singer disputed the allegations in the Times report.
“None of the allegations made about Mr. Rubin are true,” he told CNN Business in a statement while calling them “demonstrably false.”
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has told staff he supports their right to take the action, according to BBC News.
“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” Pichai said in an all-staff email. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society… and, yes, here at Google, too.”
ABC News reports that in an email last week, Pichai and Eileen Naughton, Google’s executive in charge of personnel issues, sought to reassure workers that the company had cracked down on sexual misconduct since Rubin’s departure four years ago.
“In the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package,” Pichai stated in a Google memo.
“Google Walkout For Real Change”
Thursday’s walkout could signal that a significant number of the 94,000 employees working for Google and its corporate parent Alphabet Inc. remained unconvinced the company is doing enough to adhere to Alphabet’s own mantra, urging all employees to “do the right thing.”
— Google Walkout For Real Change (@GoogleWalkout) November 1, 2018
Before Google employees got to work in the United States, around 150 Google employees in India participated in the walkouts, a company spokesman in the country told CNN. Google (GOOGL) has about 2,000 staff members across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Demonstrations were also reported at the company’s Singapore and Tokyo offices.
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeFT) November 1, 2018
In Europe, a small group of Google employees walk out at the company’s London headquarters. A larger protest was reported in Zurich, Switzerland, CNN reports.
A Silicon Valley congresswoman tweeted her support of the Google walkout using the hashtag “#MeToo” that is now synonymous with a global movement for fighting sexual misconduct.
“Why do they think it’s OK to reward perpetrators & further violate victims?” Representative Jackie Speier said, who represents an affluent district where many of Google’s employees live.
A Google spokesperson in Singapore said he couldn’t provide details on how many people took part in the walkouts at offices in that city or Tokyo, which each have more than 1,000 employees.
Organizers of the walkouts said they expected more than 1,500 people–mostly women–to take part across nearly two dozen Google offices around the world, according to the New York Times.
— Colin McMillen (@mcmillen) November 1, 2018
In the United States, there are hundreds of posts on social media using the hashtag #googlewalkout.
Who Is Andy Rubin?
Andrew “Andy” Rubin is the founder and CEO of tech startup Playground Global and a partner at venture capital form Redpoint Ventures. He is also co-founder and former CEO of both Android Inc. and Danger Inc. Rubin was also called the “Father of Android.”
Rubin left Google four years ago in 2014 to create Playground Global, an incubator for hardware startups.
But following his exit, the claim was reported to Google’s human resources department and subsequently an investigation was opened. But just a few weeks into the investigation, Rubin was given an additional stock package of $150 million. According to the Times, that stock package was unusually high by Google’s standards.
Rubin was later asked to resign by Google’s co-founder, Larry Page.
According to the Times, Rubin’s ex-wife, Rie, filed a civil suit this month. In the suit, she claimed he had multiple ‘ownership relationships’ with other women during their marriage and paid the women hundreds of thousands of dollars. They finalized their divorce in August.