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Google Employees Stage Walkout to Protest Workplace Harassment

Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.

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Hundreds of Google employees from across the world walked out of their offices on Thursday, 1 November, to protest the internet company's lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.

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WHAT IS THE ISSUE?

The walkout staged by Google employees is the latest expression of protest against the exploitation of women subordinates in the fields of business, entertainment and politics. Women in Silicon Valley, too, are fed-up with the male-dominated composition of the technology industry's workforce — a glaring imbalance that critics say fosters unsavoury behaviour akin to a college fraternity house.

WHAT IS THE PROTEST REGARDING?

The Google protest, billed ‘Walkout For Real Change’, is unfolding a week after a New York Times story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about the creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin.

The report said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 even though Google concluded that the sexual misconduct allegations against him were credible.

Rubin derided the New York Times article as “inaccurate” and denied the allegations in a tweet.

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WALKOUTS AROUND THE WORLD

As employees from Google offices across the globe stage a walkout, a Twitter handle, @GoogleWalkout, has emerged that is giving live updates of the walkouts across offices.

Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
During Google employees’ walkout in Zurich, a person was seen wearing a storm trooper costume, holding a placard that read “even I know not to sexually assault people.”
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@GoogleWalkout)
Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
More visuals from the walkout in Zurich.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@GoogleWalkout)
Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
Visuals from the walkout in Dublin, Ireland.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@evelyn_orourkeMore)
Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
More visuals from the massive ‘Walkout’ in Dublin.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@evelyn_orourkeMore)
Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
Google employees’ walkout in Berlin.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@GoogleWalkout)
Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
Visuals from a Tokyo Google office.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@GoogleWalkout)
Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
Visuals from Haifa, where a 100+ people office showed up for the walkout.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@GoogleWalkout)
Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
Google employees in London stage a Walkout to protest the inaction regarding the complaint of sexual harassment by the tech giant.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@GoogleWalkout)
Around the world, Google employees are walking out of their offices in protest of workplace harassment.
Google’s Singapore office.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@GoogleWalkout)
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OTHER GOOGLE EMPLOYEES UNDER SCANNER

The same New York Times story also disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct of other executives, including Richard DeVaul, a director at the same Google-affiliated lab that created far-flung projects such as self-driving cars and internet-beaming balloons.

DeVaul had remained at the ‘X’ lab after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced about him a few years ago – but he resigned Tuesday, 30 October, without severance, Google confirmed Wednesday, 31 October.

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WHAT GOOGLE IS SAYING?

Google CEO Sundar Pichai apologised for the company's "past actions" in an email sent to employees on Tuesday, 30 October.

"I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel," Pichai 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."

The email didn't mention the reported incidents involving Rubin, DeVaul or anyone else, but Pichai didn't dispute anything in the New York Times story.

In an email last week, Pichai and Eileen Naughton, Google’s executive in-charge of personnel issues, sought to reassure workers that the company had cracked down on sexual misconduct since Rubin’s departure four years ago.

Among other things, Pichai and Naughton disclosed that Google had fired 48 employees , including 13 senior managers, for "sexual harassment" in recent years without giving any of them severance packages.

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94,000 EMPLOYEES REMAIN UNCONVINCED

But 1 November's walkout signal that a significant number of the 94,000 employees working for Google and its corporate parent Alphabet Inc remain unconvinced the company is doing enough to adhere to Alphabet's own edict which urges all employees to "do the right thing."

A Silicon Valley congresswoman tweeted in support of the Google walkout using the #MeToo hashtag that has become a battle cry for survivors fighting sexual misconduct. "Why do they think it's okay to reward perpetrators & further violate victims?" asked Rep Jackie Speier, who represents an affluent district where many of Google's employees live.

(With inputs from AP)

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