Google work­ers walk out in ‘MeToo’ protest

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Top News - AFP— REUTERS

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Thou­sands of Google em­ploy­ees joined a co­or­di­nated world­wide walk­out on Thurs­day to protest at the US tech gi­ant’s han­dling of sex­ual ha­rass­ment as the com­pany’s chief vowed that “con­crete steps are com­ing” in re­sponse to the con­cern.

Google em­ploy­ees poured out of build­ings at the com­pany’s Sil­i­con Val­ley “Google­plex”, fill­ing court­yards and pa­tios in sol­i­dar­ity with work­ers around the world who held sim­i­lar protests over the com­pany’s han­dling of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

De­mon­stra­tors streamed across the Moun­tain View cam­pus, some wav­ing signs bear­ing mes­sages such as “Time’s Up Tech” and “Happy to quit for $90 mil­lion — no sex­ual ha­rass­ment re­quired”.

The turnout in Cal­i­for­nia was the fi­nal stage of a global walk­out that be­gan in Asia and spread to Google of­fices in Europe.

Some protesters chalked state­ments such as “Not OK Google” in large let­ters on the pave­ment as TV news he­li­copters cir­cled over­head.

Pic­tures, videos and com­ments flooded a freshly launched “Google Walk­out For Real Change” ac­count on Twit­ter as em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors left their work­places to protest.

“There’s been anger and frus­tra­tion within the com­pany,” Google Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Sun­dar Pichai was quoted said on Thurs­day.

“At Google, we set a very high bar, and we clearly didn’t live up to our ex­pec­ta­tions.”

In New York, where Google has a large of­fice in the Chelsea neigh­bor­hood, hun­dreds of em­ploy­ees took to the streets.

“I think we are a really pow­er­ful col­lec­tive and we all want to see change,” said Claire Sta­ple­ton, one of the New York or­ga­niz­ers. “I think lead­er­ship is lis­ten­ing.”

48 em­ploy­ees fired

The protest took shape af­ter Google said last week that it had fired 48 em­ploy­ees in the past two years — in­clud­ing 13 se­nior ex­ec­u­tives — as a re­sult of al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

That state­ment came af­ter The New York Times re­ported that a se­nior Google em­ployee, An­droid cre­ator Andy Ru­bin, re­ceived an exit pack­age worth $90 mil­lion as he faced al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct, and that Google had cov­ered up other claims of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Ru­bin has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and claimed he was the vic­tim of a “smear cam­paign”.

Protesters pointed out that women make up only about 31 per­cent of the work­force and 25 per­cent of ex­ec­u­tives at Google.

Demma Ro­driguez, head of eq­uity en­gi­neer­ing and a seven-year Google em­ployee, said the protest was an im­por­tant part of bring­ing fair­ness to the tech­nol­ogy colos­sus.

“We have an aspi­ra­tion to be the best com­pany in the world,” Ro­driguez said. “But we also have goals as a com­pany and we can’t de­cide we are go­ing to miss those.”

JEENAH MOON / REUTERS

Work­ers hold signs af­ter walk­ing out of the Google of­fices in New York on Thurs­day as part of a global protest over work­place is­sues.

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