Google employees walk out over sexual harassment, inequality and racism claims

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Google employees around the world are to walk out of their offices on Thursday in protest at claims of sexual harassment, gender inequality and systemic racism at the tech giant, which “go all the way to the top”.

The protest comes following allegations of sexual misconduct made against senior executives published in the New York Times, which organisers say are the most high-profile examples of “thousands” of similar cases across the company.

“Sadly, this is part of a longstanding pattern, one further amplified by systemic racism,” organisers said in a press release.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, said management told staff it was aware of the protest and would support employees who participated.

“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,” he added.

Around a hundred Google employees were huddled outside the tech giant’s London headquarters during a thunderstorm on Thursday in solidarity with the protest.

One employee said the problem lay more with “structures that are in place” than directly with the senior executives but stressed a need for more women in senior positions.

The employee said: “I would really like to believe, given what we’ve seen today at Google offices, that things will change but I can’t say I’m 100 per cent confident.

“Things like this are complicated and there isn’t going to be an issue that changes over night – it’s really a question of time.”

Hundreds of employees in Dublin, Zurich, Singapore and Tokyo were also pictured leaving their offices en masse, listening to speeches and “sharing stories about harassment, microaggressions, inefficient process, broken culture”, according to one employee.

Richard DeVaul, a director at a unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, resigned from the company on Tuesday after he was accused of sexually harassing a female job applicant.

Android creator Andy Rubin left Google in 2014 with a 90 million dollar (£70 million) golden parachute, one of three executives the company is accused of protecting and supporting after being accused of sexual misconduct, according to the New York Times.

“For every story in the New York Times, there are thousands more, at every level of the company. Most have not been told,” added organisers.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of tech workers union Prospect, said: “Sexual harassment is a serious problem in too many workplaces, including in the tech sector.

“The events in Google highlight the frustration many workers feel about their lack of voice in how many tech companies are run.

“We need a zero tolerance for harassment and greater transparency over terms and conditions for staff.”

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