Hundreds of Google employees around the world have walked off the job, in an unprecedented protest against the internet giant’s lenient approach to executives accused of sexual misconduct.
Staff are demanding changes in how the company handles sexual misconduct allegations, including a call to end forced arbitration, which prevents accusers from suing.
On Thursday, employees in offices from Tokyo and Singapore to London and Dublin walked out, leaving a note on their desks telling colleagues: “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone.”
In a statement on Thursday, Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said employees taking part in the walkouts would be “have the support they need” and that the company was “taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action”.
Top execs accused of misconduct
The protest, billed the “Walkout For Real Change”, comes a week after The New York Times revealed that Andy Rubin – creator of Google’s Android software – received a $90m severance package despite being sacked over accusations of sexual misconduct.
Rubin said the Times’ report was inaccurate in a pair of statements on Twitter and denied the allegations, which he called a “smear campaign”.
Other executives were also named in the article, including Richard DeVaul, director of Google’s X research lab. The report said DeVaul remained in his position after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced about him a few years ago. He resigned on Tuesday without severance, Google confirmed on Wednesday.
DeVaul has not commented since his resignation but has in the past called the incident – in which he allegedly made unwanted advances to a woman – an “error of judgement”.