Employees of Google from offices around the world have initiated a series of walkout on Thursday (Nov 1). The global #metoo movement was kicked off to protest the company’s response to sexual harassment and demand the organisation to address rising concerns about workplace inequality. The protests first commenced in Asia, then followed by Europe and North America. The final wave took place at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Both Google’s permanent employees and contract workers participated in the walkout, which was done following New York Times report last week that Google in 2014 gave a $90 million exit package to a senior vice president, Andy Rubin, after he was accused of sexual harassment. Rubin had denied the allegation in the New York Times story, which he said contained “wild exaggerations” about his compensation. However, Google did not dispute the report.
The protests organiser said about 60 percent Google’s offices participated, including Dublin, the company’s largest site outside the United States, as well as London, Zurich, Berlin and Singapore. They shared photographs on social media of hundreds leaving offices.
Many employees at the Mountain View walkout chanted “Women’s rights are workers rights,” and some wore blue ribbons in support of sexual harassment victims. Around the world, Google workers walked out carrying signs reading “Time’s up Tech,” “Happy to quit for $90M – no sexual harassment required” and “Not OK Google,” a reference to the “OK Google” phrase used to activate Google’s voice-operated Assistant.
Organisers and other employees said Google executives, like leaders at the dozens of companies affected by the #metoo movement, have been slow to address numerous structural issues such as unchecked power of male executives.
They want the search engine giant to publicly report its sexual harassment statistics and end forced arbitration in harassment cases. They also have asked that the chief diversity officer be able to directly advise the board, Reuters reports.