Last week, a comprehensive New York Times piece revealed that three high-level executives at Google - including Android co-founder, Andy Rubin, who had left in 2014 and now runs Essential - allegedly engaged in incidents that involved sexual misconduct on their part. In fact, with regard to Rubin, this wouldn't be the first time his impropriety at Google was outed; just last November, rumors of the same led him to temporarily step down as CEO of Essential, until he returned to his position at the company a little over a week later.
Rather than outright dismiss him with no further questions asked, Andy Rubin was let go of with a $90 million exit package that was to be paid in monthly chunks of $2 million over four years (the last of which will be paid this month). Google had no legal obligation to do so. Moreover, the company also decided to simply not address the allegations at all. A similar process was followed with former SVP of Search Amit Singhal, the other executive who was let go of. The third executive, Google X director Rich DeVaul, continued to work at Google in the same capacity, until he resigned yesterday after his public outing.
In response to this, last week, current Google CEO Sundar Pichai and VP of people operations Eileen Naughton said in a company-wide email that 48 people were dismissed over the past two years as a result of sexual misconduct allegations. They did not, however, deny the sequence of events stated in the NYT article.
Today’s story in the New York Times was difficult to read.
We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace. We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action.
In recent years, we’ve made a number of changes, including taking an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority: 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.
In 2015, we launched Respect@ and our annual Internal Investigations Report to provide transparency about these types of investigations at Google. Because we know that reporting harassment can be traumatic, we provide confidential channels to share any inappropriate behavior you experience or see. We support and respect those who have spoken out. You can find many ways to do this at go/saysomething. You can make a report anonymously if you wish.
We’ve also updated our policy to require all VPs and SVPs to disclose any relationship with a co-worker regardless of reporting line or presence of conflict.
We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work, and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately.
Sundar and Eileen
Today, in mass protest against these revelations, Google employees worldwide will be walking out of their workplace, starting with the Singapore office. The Tokyo branch, and others, are to follow suit shortly after.
Calling this movement the Google Walkout for Real Change, the company employees are petitioning for the following changes to make for a safer, more inclusive workplace:
- An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination.
- A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
- A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
- A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
- Elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the board of directors. In addition, appoint an employee representative to the board.
As a formal, unifying gesture of sorts, during the walkout, employees will be leaving this flyer at their desk:
The walkout actively began just a few hours ago, and will gradually happen in participating offices around the world over across timezones, for half of today's working hours. Anyone intending to keep up with events so far can follow the organizers directly on both their Twitter and Instagram handles.