Google staff plan walkout over management of sexual misconduct claims

30 Oct 2018

Google sign. Image: mentatdgt/Depositphotos

Google employees are planning to send a message to top-level executives over allegations that the company protected staff accused of sexual misconduct.

More than 200 Google engineers are planning a ‘women’s walk’ to protest the protection of Andy Rubin and other executives involved in alleged sexual misconduct. According to BuzzFeed News, the walkout is planned for Thursday (1 November).

News of the planned protest comes just a handful of days after The New York Times published an explosive investigative report detailing sexual harassment at Google.

Android creator Andy Rubin was alleged to have coerced a staff member into sexual activity, an accusation that the company found to be credible. Google then asked for Rubin to resign and reportedly paid him a $90m exit package. The misconduct was not mentioned in the announcement of Rubin’s departure.

Rubin said: “The New York Times story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation.” He added: “These false allegations are part of a smear campaign.”

One employee who spoke to BuzzFeed News said: “I feel like there’s a pattern of powerful men getting away with awful behaviour towards women at Google‚ or if they don’t get away with it they get a slap on the wrist, or they get sent away with a golden parachute like Andy Rubin.”

Staff taking action

This protest is the latest in a series of actions taken by Google employees to air frustrations about management practices and certain projects undertaken by the tech giant.

Earlier in 2018, staff organised resistance efforts against a Pentagon-led drone warfare project the company was working on. The endeavour, dubbed Project Maven, was criticised by many Google workers. Staff at the company have also raised concerns about ‘Dragonfly’, an alleged censored search project for the Chinese market.

This latest organised action shows that many employees at the company are dissatisfied with aspects of the leadership at Google. In a more general sense, it highlights the growing issues many technology companies are experiencing under the glare of the public eye, from ethical quandaries to diversity and harassment in the workplace.

Google sign. Image: mentatdgt/Depositphotos

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects