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Google staff are staging an incredible global walkout today in support of women

Posted by
Susan Devaney
Published

Time’s up for Google. 

Over the past year Google’s treatment of its female employees has been a charged topic. From its gender pay gap issue to one male employee’s internal email suggesting women were biologically less adept at engineering than men, both issues have subsequently left staff asking questions and raising concerns.

Now, employees across the world are taking things to the next level by staging a mass walkout today (Thursday 1 November) in protest at the company’s treatment of women.

It comes as a reaction to the events that have unfolded in the past week. According to a report published by The New York Times, Google has paid millions in exit packages to several male executives accused of sexual harassment – including a $90 million (£67.9m) payout to high profile exec Andy Rubin. Otherwise known as the ‘creator’ of the Android mobile operating system.

Google later revealed it had fired 48 people for sexual harassment over the last two years, adding that none had received a payout. However, internal staff are not happy with the company’s decisions which is why they want to see immediate change in the handling of sexual misconduct allegations – including an end to forced arbitration (allowing victims to sue).

Across the world the planned walkout for 11:10am have already started happening – with staff sharing photos on Twitter using the hashtag #GoogleWalkout

In Singapore: 

In London: 

In Zurich:

In Berlin:

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai sent an internal email, showing support for the walkout, meaning staff will not face the possibility of losing their jobs by getting involved.

“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” he wrote.

“I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society… and, yes, here at Google, too.”

Currently, only 31% of Google’s global workforce are women.

“We don’t want to feel that we’re unequal or we’re not respected anymore,” said Claire Stapleton, 33, a product marketing manager at Google’s YouTube who helped call for the walkout. “Google’s famous for its culture. But in reality we’re not even meeting the basics of respect, justice and fairness for every single person here.”

What changes do employees want to see?

Every staff member taking part in the walkout will leave a note on their desk telling colleagues: “’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.”

Staff have made their requests known on Twitter:

1) An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees

2) A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality

3) A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report

4) A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously

5) The elevation of the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO, and make recommendations directly to the board of directors

In a statement, Mr Pichai said: “Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward. We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”

You can follow the walkout here.

Images: Getty / Twitter 

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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