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Google employees begin walkout over handling of sexual misconduct by executives

by Oregon Herald Staff / NBC News Thursday November 1, 2018    9:42 AM

Google employees in company offices around the world began staging a walkout on Thursday to protest the company's handling of senior executives accused of sexual misconduct.

The protest was scheduled by organizers to begin at 11:10 a.m. local time for each office, with a Twitter account set up by organizers of the protest already featuring walkout photos from a variety of locations including Singapore, Tokyo, London, Dublin and others.

The walkout was organized in response to a report by The New York Times published last week that found two senior Google executives had been paid tens of millions of dollars in exit packages after they left the company following allegations of sexual misconduct.

A third senior executive named in the Times article had been allowed to stay at the company but resigned on Tuesday.

The report drew a swift response from Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive officer. That same day, Pichai and Eileen Naughton, the company's vice president of people operations, sent an email to employees saying that the company was "dead serious" about making sure the company provides "a safe and inclusive workplace. Pichai and Naughton said that the company had fired 48 people without pay for sexual over the past two years.

That did little to quell growing employee resentment.

"Hundreds of people are demanding structural change, not just inclusive sounding PR," tweeted Meredith Whittaker on Tuesday, confirming that employees were planning a walkout.

A Twitter account, @GoogleWalkout, said that employees were demanding five changes: an ended to forced arbitration on cases of harassment and discrimination, a commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity, a publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report; a new process for reporting sexual misconduct, and to elevate the company's chief diversity officer to report to the company's CEO and have them make recommendations to the company's board of directors.

The group also called for an employee representative to be added to the company's board.

In London, Google employees said on Twitter that weather forced employees to remain inside, but that people filled the biggest room in the office with more listening in overflow areas.

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