Yesterday marked the day of the #GoogleWalkout movement, in which Google employees from all around the world exited en mass from offices to protest the tech giant’s allegedly lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct. The company’s staff in Singapore were the first to conduct the walkout, with thousands of their colleagues in Zurich, London, Tokyo, Berlin, New York, and more following suit in a global demonstration of discontent. BBC reporter Dave Lee shared a photo of the walkout from Google’s Asia-Pacific headquarters at Pasir Panjang’s Mapletree Business City.
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBC) November 1, 2018
The walkout was staged in response to a report by The New York Times about the creator of Android mobile operating software Andy Rubin and the allegations of sexual misconduct with an employee. Accused of coercing the woman into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013 (the story is corroborated by two Google executives familiar with the incident), Rubin has since disputed the story and claims that the allegations are part of a “smear campaign” by his ex-wife to cast him in a bad light during their divorce.
Google reportedly tried to sweep the incident under the rug by asking for his resignation, but not without a $90 million exit package and heaping praises on him in a farewell message when he left in 2014. The Times also revealed that Google protected a total of three high-ranking executives over the past decade and stayed silent about any accusations of inappropriate behavior.
Struggling to contain the internal backlash, a group of outraged Google employees planned a walkout to protest the company’s treatment of sexual harassment, and the number of supporters snowballed to over 1,500, according to NYT.
Google Walkout for Real Change was scheduled for Nov 1 at 11.10am and as of today, nearly 17,000 employees from 40 offices all over the world participated in the protest.
We crunched the data (because that’s what Googlers do). Nearly 17,000 employees from 40 global offices participated in #GoogleWalkout, and we haven’t finished counting all the offices yet… pic.twitter.com/xCOnQakH0A
— Google Walkout For Real Change (@GoogleWalkout) November 2, 2018
Hundreds of Google employees walked out of their offices across San Francisco chanting: “Times up on sexual harassment, times up on abuse of power. Times up on systemic racism, enough is enough.” #GoogleWalkout pic.twitter.com/CKNXdsg9Ha
— SaaS News (@saasnews7) November 1, 2018
— chinesco (@chinesco) November 1, 2018
The organizers of the walkout issued a letter demanding five changes that Google should make to its company policy, including being more transparent and implement better measures against sexual misconduct.
— Google Walkout For Real Change (@GoogleWalkout) November 1, 2018
Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai responded to the expose by assuring employees in an email that the company had fired 48 people without exit packages over the last two years for sexual harassment. He sent another apologetic email the same day, stating that he supported the walkout and promised to improve company policies.
“Moments like this show that we didn’t always get it right, and so we are committed to doing better,” CNBC reported Pichai to have said on stage at The New York Times DealBook conference yesterday.
“There’s anger and frustration within the company,” he said. “We all feel it. I feel it too.”
Over here, #GoogleWalkout made it to the news and even on radio this morning. But according to Singapore-based tech writer Sara M. Watson, the local radio personalities weren’t well-versed in handling the serious issue.
this is not a laughing matter.
— Sara M. Watson (@smwat) November 2, 2018
We’ve reached out to Google representatives in Singapore for their comments on the movement.