Google Employees Plan Global Walkout To Protest Company's Treatment Of Women

By Emily Sullivan

People participate in a walkout at the Google office in Zurich on Thursday.

Social Media/Reuters

Hundreds of Google employees worldwide are expected to walk off the job to protest the company's treatment of women and handling of sexual assault cases.

Organizers say they expect more than a thousand employees will walk out of Google offices worldwide at 11:10 a.m. local time on Thursday. Hundreds of employees have already walked out in Singapore.

Organizers are calling for an end to forced arbitration, a commitment from the company to end pay and opportunity inequity, a publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report and a safe and anonymous process for reporting sexual misconduct at Google.

The employee protest comes a week after The New York Times published an extensive report on sexual harassment at the company. Andy Rubin, the creator the Android software operating system, was accused by a female colleague of coercing her to perform oral sex on him in 2013, the Times reports.

Google reportedly found the allegation credible, asked for his resignation and gave him an exit package worth $90 million.

The company did not mention the allegations in the announcement of his departure.

Rubin has tweeted, "These false allegations are part of a smear campaign."

"As Google workers, we were disgusted by the details of the recent New York Times article, which provided the latest example of a culture of complicity, dismissiveness, and support for perpetrators in the face of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse of power," organizers told NPR in an emailed statement.

"For every story in the New York Times, there are thousands more, at every level of the company. Most have not been told."

Since the Times report, the company's leadership is dealing with an agitated workforce, according to multiple reports.

"While Google has championed the language of diversity and inclusion, substantive actions to address systemic racism, increase equity, and stop sexual harassment have been few and far between," organizers say.

The walkout is meant to inspire "real change," they say.

Some demands relate directly to Google's workforce gender makeup: Only 31 percent of its global work force and just over a quarter of its executives are women.

Last year, the federal government sued Google, a government contractor, to release compensation data in order to ensure the company was obeying equal opportunity laws.

Others relate to the company's treatment of sexual harassment. Currently, the company requires employees to waive their right to sue in cases of sexual harassment, and often includes confidentiality agreements, the Times reports.

Organizers are also asking for "a clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously."

They have also asked that the company's chief diversity officer answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the Board of Directors — and that the company add an employee representative to the board.

"This is part of a growing movement, not just in tech, but across the country, including teachers, fast food workers, and others who are using their strength in numbers to make real change," organizers said.

Employees who walk out will display a poster on their desk that reads, "Hi. I'm not at my desk because I'm walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that's not working for everyone. I'll be back at my desk later."