Google's Singapore, NY, London employees participate in global 'walkout for real change'

Singapore employees became the first participants of "Walkout for Real Change" protest event.

Twitter screengrab @DaveLeeBBC
Google Singapore employees Twitter screengrab/ DaveLeeBBC

Almost 20,000 Google employees and contractors participated in "global walkout for real change" in 50 cities worldwide on November 1. But, Singapore employees were the first participants of the demonstration.

While Google staff from Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Zurich and London joined the same event, entitled "Walkout for Real Change, November 1, 11:10 am," Singapore office staffs became the first participants, because the country is ahead by several hours and it was still October 31 in other parts of the world.

The official twitter page of the event, 'Google Walkout For Real Change' tweeted on November 2 that started the event took place to protest against sexual harassment misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace that doesn't work for everyone.

BBC's reporter, Dave Lee posted a photo on Twitter that showed employees from the tech giant's office in Singapore at Pasir Panjang's Mapletree Business City and the tweet read, "The first of many coordinated #GoogleWalkout protests has begun – this is at the firm's office in Singapore."

As per the organizers, the idea behind the movement came after The New York Times published an article on October 25 that stated how the company covered up allegations of sexual misconduct against American computer programmer Andy Rubin, who created Android's operating systems.

Even though after the investigation in 2014, the Google asked Rubin to resign, he was not only publicly praised by the company but also given a resignation package that worth $90 million.

The same article also pointed out that Google behaved the same way towards two other executives and did not shed a light on any accusations of sexual misconduct.

As the numbers of unhappy employees grew to 1500, mostly women, Claire Stapleton, a product marketing manager at Google's YouTube, said, "We don't want to feel that we're unequal or we're not respected anymore. Google's famous for its culture. But in reality, we're not even meeting the basics of respect, justice and fairness for every single person here."

As reported, a Google employee Tanuja Gupta said in New York added, "We have the eyes of many companies looking at us. We've always been a vanguard company, so if we don't lead the way, nobody else will."

The protesters said that while the company has "championed the language of diversity and inclusion, substantive actions to address systemic racism, increase equity, and stop sexual harassment have been few and far between."

The organizers posted a picture on Twitter that included five major demands for change and these are:

  1. An end to Forced Arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination
  2. A commitment to end pay and opportunity equity.
  3. A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
  4. A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct policy safely and anonymously.
  5. Elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the Board of Director. In addition, appoint an Employee Representative to the Board.

Regarding the walkout movement, the company's CEO Sundar Pichai showed his support and urged to change Google's policy concerning the matter. He said, "Moments like this show that we didn't always get it right and so we are committed to doing better. There are anger and frustration within the company. We all feel it. I feel it too."