In a flurry of events, the search engine giant Google was welcomed with a deluge of outraged employees. According to NPR, hundreds of the tech giant’s engineers and other workers around the world walked off the job to protest the internet company’s lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.
It is the latest expression of a backlash against men’s exploitation of female subordinates in business, entertainment, and politics. In Silicon Valley, women also are becoming fed up with the male-dominated composition of the technology industry’s workforce, which has been a glaring imbalance that critics say fosters unsavory behaviour akin to a college fraternity house.
Employees were seen staging walkouts at offices from Tokyo and Singapore to London and Dublin. The Google protest is billed “Walkout For Real Change.” It 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 US$90 million severance package in 2014 even though Google concluded the sexual misconduct allegations against him were credible. Rubin derided the Times story article as inaccurate and denied the allegations in a tweet.
The same story also disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct of other executives, including Richard DeVaul, who is 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 recently without severance. Google eventually confirmed the move.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai apologized for the company’s “past actions” in an email sent to employees Tuesday.
“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, however, did not mention the reported incidents involving Rubin, DeVaul or anyone else, but Pichai did not dispute anything in the aforementioned 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. The recent workout seems to signal that a significant number of the 94,000 employees working for Google and its corporate parent Alphabet Inc. remained unconvinced the company is doing enough to adhere to Alphabet’s own edict urging all employees to “do the right thing.”
In related news, Google just launched the optimized “Go” variants for Assistant, Maps, YouTube, and more. One of the more popular applications in the line is Files Go, with Google today dropping that moniker as part a Material Theme redesign.
Before launching the update, users will notice that the application is now simply called “Files.” “Go” is dropped from both the app launcher and icon, though the Play Store listing has yet to be updated. In the case of the app icon, it no longer features the “Go” visual label found in other apps belonging to the family.
This new branding is reflected in the app bar that now features an icon and name at center. Like other Google Material Theme apps, it is merged with the status bar for a clean look. However, Files still retains a navigation drawer to access settings and note your share/savings status.