Google : protest of employees against sexual harassment

“Hi. I’m not at my desk because I’m going to participate, in solidarity with other employees of Google, at a rally to protest against the sexual harassment, sexual assault, lack of transparency and a corporate culture that does not work for everyone. I will return to my post later. ”

This is the message that Google employees have left on their desks Thursday, November 1st, on the occasion of a day of action called ” #Googlewalkout “. Walkouts have taken place to the four corners of the world, New York, Singapore, London, Dublin, Zurich, Toronto, Chicago or even in Mountain View, California, where is located the headquarters of the company. In all, the organizers claimed to have had 17 000 participants – a figure much higher than the 1,500 people they were expecting.

“The time has come for the tech ”

In New York, where Google employs nearly 10,000 people, hundreds of employees, most under the age of 40 years, were found in a park near the offices of the company. Some were equipped with placards saying that “The time has come for the high-tech” (” Time’s Up-Tech “), a reference to the movement “Time’s Up” defence of the victims of sexual harassment, born in the wake of the #metoo in October 2017. Several people have succeeded on the megaphone to push the protesters to demand a change of culture at Google.

Hundreds of protesters were also present at the group’s headquarters in California. “Twelve years at Google, and I’ve never seen a crowd as large. Proud to be there to support justice and transparency “, he commented on Twitter to an employee, Ken Norton.

Beautiful day for a #GoogleWalkout

— kennethn (@Ken Norton)

48 layoffs

This mobilization comes a few days after the publication on Thursday 25 October, an investigation by the New York Times, according to which Google has ignored several cases of aggression or sexual harassment. The american daily newspaper refers to the case of Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile operating system, which has left the company in 2014 after, according to the New York Times, was accused by an employee of having forced him to perform fellatio. Gold, provides the log, the man would have received $ 90 million of severance – which was not compulsory –, a message of tribute from Larry Page, co-founder of Google, and the silence of the company on the matter.

The article also touched on the case of Richard DeVaul, one of the leaders of X, the prestigious laboratory of the Alphabet (the parent company of Google) in charge of the projects “crazy” from company – X, for example, is the origin of the Google Car and Google Glass. It is alleged to have said to a candidate for hiring to be polyamoureux, inviting them to a festival and having asked them to undress for the massage. After the publication of the article in the New York Times, Richard DeVaul has resigned – without severance pay, has assured the company to the same journal.

In response to this inquiry, the president of Google Sundar Pichai and the head of human resources Eileen Naughton had announced to have dismissed, during the past two years, 48 people for cases of harassment or sexual assault, including thirteen senior managers, ensuring that none of them had received severance pay. Andy Rubin, meanwhile, denied the information to the New York Times, citing ” a campaign of defamation “.

“Concrete measures have been very rare ”

The speeches of the leaders of Google have, it seems, not enough to appease some of the employees of the company. “While Google presents itself as the champion of diversity and inclusion, the concrete measures to combat racism, promote equity and put an end to sexual harassment were very rare,” wrote the organizers on a platform in-house, in a message that the New York Times has been able to consult.

These employees have published a list of their demands, requiring, for example, the end of the arbitration private, in the case of sexual harassment and discrimination, which may prevent the employee may lodge a complaint or make the case public. They are also calling for an end to the inequality of wages and opportunities, a transparency report on sexual harassment and a framework to “clear, consistent and inclusive” to report cases of sexual harassment ” secure and anonymous “. Finally, they would like to see the person in charge of diversity issues in the company to be in direct link with the CEO and advises directly the board of directors – which should, according to them, integrate a representative of the employees.

Thursday, the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, acknowledged that the company “had not been at the height of” the bar very high ” it was fixed. He has promised “concrete measures” would be taken, without giving more details.

The women in the minority at Google

Google, which has more than 85 000 employees in the world, is mainly composed of men (69.1 percent), according to figures from the company. A rate that goes up to 74,5 % on positions of responsibility and 78,6 % on the positions directly related to the technology. Google has always assured to take this issue to heart and make efforts to diversify its business (otherwise made up mostly of white people). The publication of an annual report on the subject is part of the measures taken in recent years, where it is noted that in 2014 for 83.4% of the total workforce of the company was male. Google has also announced over the years of training to fight against prejudice, donations to organizations working on these issues, or even a leave of absence from parenting more equal for men and women.

The company is still subject to lawsuits from former employees, who accuse the company of paying less for the women – what Google is challenging. The u.s. department of labor investigation, as to him, on the matter.

Several protests in recent months

Moreover, the manifesto published last year by a Google employee, James Damore, challenging the diversity policy of the company, with passages sexist, had caused a large debate internally – and the dismissal of the author of the text.

In recent months, the employees of Google have repeatedly made their voices heard, to express their dissatisfaction on various issues. They were particularly opposed to the participation of the company in Maven project of the Pentagon, that aims to exploit the technologies of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse images from drones. In the Face of the fronde, Google had finally put an end to this partnership and committed to never make its technologies of AI at the service of the armament.

This summer, employees have also expressed their displeasure after learning that the company pondered the possible return of its search engine in China, in a version adapted to the censorship imposed by the regime.

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