Google employees plan walkout against “workplace bro” culture

The "woman's walk" has been organised in response to the company reportedly protecting employees who face allegations of misconduct.
By: | October 30, 2018


More than 200 Google engineers are planning to walk out in protest of the company’s seeming “workplace bro” culture.

The “woman’s walk”, as reported by BuzzFeed, has been organised in response to the company protecting employees such as Andy Rubin – the so-called “Father of Android”, who had created and run the team behind the mobile operating system – when they faced allegations of misconduct.

As detailed in an explosive expose by the New York Times last week, Rubin left the company in late 2014, with a US$90 million (SG$125 million) exit package. His relationship with Google remained cordial – indeed, the tech giant “invested millions of dollars in his next venture”.

This, despite the fact that his departure was related to a complaint of sexual misconduct; a complaint that Google reportedly found to be “credible”.

The report goes on to describe various instances of Google seemingly protecting male employees who had allegedly engaged in inappropriate behaviour.

For example, after an employee complained that she was molested by former senior vice-president Amit Singhal, a complaint that Google also found credible, Singhal was able to negotiate an exit package that “paid him millions and prevented him from working for a competitor”.

However, when Singhal joined Uber a few months later, the exact details of his departure from Google were quickly, mysteriously, leaked to the tech press. Singhal was soon let go from Uber.

After the publication of the New York Times report, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, wrote a letter to the company’s employees, highlighting that some 48 employees had been fired over the years for sexual harassment, including 13 senior level staff, with none receiving exit packages.

“We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work, and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately,” he added.

The company also organised a town hall meeting for executives to speak with employees across the company.

However, the women’s walkout is reportedly still going ahead later this week.

“I feel like there’s a pattern of powerful men getting away with awful behavior 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. And it’s a leadership of mostly men making the decisions about what kind of consequences to give, or not give,” one anonymous employee told BuzzFeed.

“We can do so much better,” said another employee on Twitter.

This is not, by any means, the first instance of employees speaking out against the Silicon Valley giant. In August, some 1,400 Google staff signed a letter protesting the company’s cooperation with the Chinese government on a web censorship project.