"On Nov. 1, 20,000 Google employees and contractors walked out of the company’s offices around the world, one week after the New York Times reported that Google had protected three executives accused of sexual misconduct, including Android founder Andy Rubin.
But the protests were about more than just how Google handles harassment. On the latest episode of Recode Decode with Kara Swisher, six of the walkout organizers — Erica Anderson, Claire Stapleton, Meredith Whittaker, Stephanie Parker, Cecilia O’Neil-Hart and Amr Gaber — explained that employees’ grievances included a history of pay discrimination, systemic racism and the unequal treatment of contract workers.
And Google executives have neglected to even talk about some of the five demands that the workers presented in conjunction with the walkouts.
“They did not ever address, acknowledge, the list of demands, nor did they adequately provide solutions to all the five,” said Stapleton, a marketing manager at YouTube who has been at Google for more than 11 years. “They did drop forced arbitration, but for sexual harassment only, not discrimination, which was a key omission. Nothing was addressed regarding TVCs [contract workers] ... I think we didn’t see accountability in action.”
“You don’t have 20,000 people in the streets planned in three days if there isn’t something deeply, structurally wrong,” added Whittaker, the founder of Google’s Open Research group.
Parker, a policy specialist at YouTube, initially read a prepared statement to her San Bruno, Calif., colleagues during the walkout, but then asked them a question she hadn’t written down. Where, she asked, did Google get the tens of millions of dollars it paid to Rubin and other senior executives accused of sexual misconduct?
“They got it from every time you worked late,” Parker said. “Every promotion you didn’t get because they said there’s not enough budget, you have to wait. It’s from every contractor who came to work sick because they have no paid time off. These are conscious decisions that the company is making, and abusers are getting rich off of our hard work.”
And the walkouts, the organizers agreed, have in some cases turned strangers into allies. People who had been raising red flags for years and felt they weren’t being heard suddenly realized that they were not the only ones who thought Google wasn’t hearing what it needed to hear.
“We’re giving our feedback about what’s wrong through all of the official channels,” Parker said. “We’re filling out the surveys every year. We are talking back in TGIF [all hands meetings] and asking these questions, and nothing is happening. But once we begin to find each other, and see each other all speaking out and all saying, fundamentally, the same thing, then the fear starts to go away. Once we start taking collective action, then we can’t be stopped.” ...
Read full article, interview and transcript at Recode