More than 20,000 Google employees and contractors participated in the mass global walkout to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against top executives, according to organizers of the protest who published a Medium post this evening.
As of September 30th, 2018, Google had 94,372 full-time and contract employees worldwide, meaning more than 20 percent of the entire company participated in the walkout. The event was sparked by an investigation from The New York Times that revealed how Android co-founder Andy Rubin was paid $90 million upon his exit from the company after it learned of a sexual assault allegation against him.
There is no doubt that Google came up more than any other organization when speakers cited Good Practice. Laszlo Bock’s book, Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead was a beacon for HR and people managers worldwide to emulate the Silicon Valley giant’s culture and talent practices.
So it was all the more shocking, when on the 1st November 2018 thousands of Google employees decided to stage a walk-out from the company in over forty offices worldwide, protesting how the company handled – or rather did not – sexual misconduct and complaints about its workplace culture.
Claire Stapleton, who is one of the organizers of the walkout, a product marketing manager at Google’s YouTube told the New York Times: “Google’s famous for its culture. But in reality, we’re not even meeting the basics of respect, justice, and fairness for every single person here.”
The 7 women organizers of the protest also drew up a list of demands to the leadership of the company, ranging from equal pay and opportunities for all, more transparency in the handling of any kind of complaint about gender bias, sexual misconduct, and harassment.
What is remarkable about the walkout, is that a lot of men also joined the women in their protest from Singapore to Japan, from Ireland to the different offices in the United States.
Many experts suggest that Google should take a look at other sectors and other companies, break out from the Silicon Valley echo chamber and take a look behind the scenes of some of the most successful companies in terms of work-life integration, gender equality and employee wellbeing. An epitome here is none other Adidas, which is headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
They have already implemented one of the demands raised by Google employees. The latter basically ask for the elevation of the Chief Diversity Officer to report directly to the CEO and also make recommendations to the board. Adidas has found a way to do this, by appointing Karen Parkin, Chief HR Officer, to the Executive Board of the company, whose direct report is the Global Director for Diversity and Work-Life Integration, to make sure that diversity and work-life issues are on the agenda of the Board meetings.
That due to the internet and social media the world has become a tiny place, and people all have a front-row ticket to what until recently has been kept well hidden inside company board-rooms and corner offices. Can people really expect more employees at other companies follow suit? Of course, they can.
Employees today have a voice, and they will use it to express what they want in exchange for their talent and hard work. They want organizations to be responsible, decision-making to be transparent and leadership to be trustworthy. They want a culture that not only celebrates the Ideal Worker type and sacrifice but also values employees as whole humans, normalizes parenthood and caring responsibilities and allows their people to have a happy and fulfilled life outside of their work and careers.