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Google staff worldwide stage walkout to demand five real changes

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Update

According to the a press release posted by the walkout organisers on Medium, more than 20,000 Google employees and contractors in Google offices located in 50 cities worldwide walked out for real change on 1 November at 11.10am.

Additional offices across Europe (including Paris, Madrid, and Munich) have also walked out to demand real change.


Yesterday, Google offices around the world staged a series of walkouts to “protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace that doesn’t work for everyone”.

According to the Twitter account @GoogleWalkout nearly 17,000 employees from 40 global offices participated in the Google walkout.

Employees participated in the walkout on 1 November at 11.10am, to demand for five real changes:

  • An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination.
  • A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality.
  • A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
  • A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
  • To elevate the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the board of directors. In addition, appointing an employee representative to the board.

From the Twitter feed, Human Resources understands that in the United States Googlers in the HQ at Mountain View, California, as well as various cities across the country (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cambridge, Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, and more) participated in the walkout.

Employees walking out in Toronto, Montreal, London, Zurich, São Paulo, Dublin, and Sydney were also featured on the twitter feed @GoogleWalkout.

Closer to home, the BBC reported that the first walkout happened at Google’s Singapore office.

Employers and contractors were instructed to leave a flyer at their desk stating the reason for the walkout.

When Human Resources reached out to Google Singapore for an official statement on the walkout, we were directed to a video featuring CEO Sundar Pichai’s comments at the New York Times’ DealBook event yesterday.

The transcript of Pichai’s comments are as follows.


Obviously it’s been a difficult time. This anger and frustration within the company, we all feel it. I feel it too. At Google we set a very, very high bar and we clearly didn’t live up to our expectations. And which is why we felt it was important to express our support for the employees today. And the first step you take in these things is to acknowledge and apologize for past actions, for the pain they caused. We sincerely did that to the company.

Secondly, words alone aren’t enough and you have to follow up with actions. And to be very clear, these incidents are from a few years ago and we have evolved as a company. As CEO, it’s been very important to me, personally meaningful to me, that we draw a hard line on inappropriate behavior and we have done so for the past few years and the last couple of years, as you mentioned.

We have taken hard action, 48 people terminated, 13 senior managers, none of them involved any pay package of any sort. But moments like this show that we didn’t always get it right and so we are committed to doing better. We are listening to employees, that’s partly why today is important and I think there are concrete steps coming out in terms of what we can do better. I want to acknowledge the women who step up and do this. I think it shows extraordinary courage. And we want to figure out how to support them better and it’s a process and I’m committed to doing better. And I want to make sure Google sets the bar for something like this.


What led to the walkout?

The walkout follows a report by the New York Times alleging that Andy Rubin – known as the “creator” of the Android mobile operating system – received a US$90 million (approximately S$123 million) payout after he left the firm, despite what Google considered a “credible” allegation of sexual misconduct. Rubin denies the accusation.

Lead photo / @GoogleWalkout

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