More than 20K Google employees, contractors participated in global walkouts

More than 20K Google employees, contractors participated in global walkouts
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The organizers of Thursday’s employee-led walkout from Google offices across the world announced Friday that more than 20,000 employees and contractors located in 50 cities worldwide participated in protesting the company’s handling of workplace harassment.

The allegations and the company's subsequent work with the executives were detailed in a bombshell New York Times report last week, prompting swift backlash from the tech giant's employees.

One employee, according to the statement, claimed during the walkout that Human Resources tried to "silence me," after she brought forth allegations that a male colleague harassed her at a team outing.

“The first thing that HR did was silence me. They made it clear that I was the problem,” she said, according to the statement. “I lasted on that team for three months. Every day, I went into work. I cried in the car for an hour, and I went into work and faced my harasser until I could not do it anymore, and I left that team.”

The walkouts started at the company’s offices in Asia and Europe, with demonstrators leaving their offices at 11:10 a.m. in their respective time zones.

“Sadly, the executive team has demonstrated through their lack of meaningful action that our safety is not a priority. We’ve waited for leadership to fix these problems, but have come to this conclusion: no one is going to do it for us,” Claire Stapleton, a protest organizer, said.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement that he supported the demonstrations.

“Earlier this week, we let Googlers know that we are aware of the activities planned for today and that employees will have the support they need if they wish to participate,” he said. “Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward. We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”

Google said 48 employees have left the company in recent years over sexual harassment claims, and the company has not paid an exit package to any employee or executive facing internal accusations in that time. 

Organizers have laid out a list of demands that includes eliminating forced arbitration, which prevents employees from suing, for harassment claims, a commitment from Google's leadership to eliminate pay inequity and a transparency report on the number of harassment claims that have been filed with the company.