Google Protestors Say Times Up
There comes a point in time where one day, people decide enough is enough — and for Google employees from across the globe, Thursday was that day.
When the clock struck 11 a.m., nearly 17,000 Google employees got up from their computers and walked out of their offices. This took place all over the world — from Dublin to Singapore, Tokyo to London, Manhattan to Atlanta and of course, at Google HQ in Mountain View, CA.
Once outside, employees from all time zones gathered together and and held up signs with phrases such as, “HAPPY TO QUIT FOR $90M — NO SEXUAL HARASSMENT REQUIRED” and “What do I do at Google? I work hard every day so the company can afford $90,000,000 payouts to exces who can sexually harass my co-workers.”
So what caused this sudden change in employee satisfaction? There was nothing sudden about it, as it’s been a long time coming. The New York Times published a report outlining how Google had consistently given senior executives accused of sexual misconduct enormous severance packages when they left the company. Push came to shove and many of Google’s employees decided it was time to do something about it.
Along with the worldwide protests, employees compiled a list of demands:
- End forced arbitration: The company will no longer call upon an independent person to settle the dispute. For all current and future employees in cases of harassment and discrimination, every employee has the right to bring with them a co-worker, representative or supporter of their choosing when meeting with HR.
- A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity: The company should provide data that shows employee compensation per various factors. The data must be clear in terms of race, gender and ethnicity in the compensation gap, for both level of job as well as years of experience in the industry and must be accessible to all Google and Alphabet employees and contractors. This data must include but not be limited to: information on relative promotion rates, under-leveling at hire, the handling of leaves and inequity in project, and job ladder change opportunities. The methods in which this data is collected and analyzed must be clear and concise as well.
- A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report: The report must include the number of harassment claims made at Google over time and by product area, the types of claims submitted, the number of victims and accused who have left Google, and any exit packages and their amount of value.
- A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct: The status of an employee should not be what dictates the accountability, safety or ability to report hostile working conditions. The process currently in place is obviously not working, mainly due to HR’s performance being assessed by senior management and directors, forcing HR to put the interests of their superiors above those employees reporting harassment and discrimination. Full-time employees, temporary employees, vendors and contractors alike should also have access to the improved process.
- Promotion of the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO: this individual will also make recommendations directly to the Board of Directors. Additionally, there should also be an appointment of an employee representative to the board. Both individuals in these positions should help distribute permanent resources for the first four demands as well as other equity efforts. They should also ensure the accountability of these demands are met and propose the necessary changes when they are not.
To really make their voices be heard, protestors took to social media to force Google to respond:
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBC) November 1, 2018
— Ted (@TedOnPrivacy) November 1, 2018
— Ciara O'Brien (@ciaraobrien) November 1, 2018
Current Google CEO Sundar Pichai seemed to publicly support the walkout, even before it occurred. He endorsed the movement once more onstage at a DealBook conference on Thursday. “Moments like this show that we didn’t always get it right,” he said, “and so we are committed to doing better.”
There is no word currently on what actions Google will take as of yet, but if Thursday’s global walkout has said anything, only two words come to mind: Time’s up.