Google employees flooded out of their Manhattan headquarters Thursday morning, joining a global walkout to protest the handling of sexual harassment at the company.
Workers left the building on Eighth Avenue, between 15th and 16th streets, in Chelsea, at about 11:10 a.m. and made their way to 14th Street Park, where some held signs with messages including, “Workers rights are women’s rights.” The quiet demonstration ended about an hour later.
Walkouts also were staged in London, Dublin, Berlin, Zurich, Tokyo, Singapore and other cities.
The demonstrations follow a New York Times report last week that said Google in 2014 gave a $90 million exit package to Andy Rubin after the then-senior vice president was accused of sexual harassment.
Rubin denied the allegation in the story, which he also said contained "wild exaggerations" about his compensation. Google did not dispute the report.
“It was a shock for a lot of us,” said Antonio, a Manhattan Google employee, who didn’t want to give his last name. “You would expect it from another company.”
Since its founding two decades ago, Google has been known around the world for its exceptional transparency with workers.
“Google has great policies,” said Demma Rodriguez, another worker who participated in the Manhattan walkout. “Having the right policies in place and those invested is not enough … We need more drive and a way to change this for the needs of other individuals who show up every day at Google for a safe environment.”
Signs about the walkout were posted throughout the Manhattan headquarters, multiple employees said, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement that workers had support from the company to participate.
“Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward,” he said. “We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”
In a statement late on Wednesday, the organizers of the walkouts called on Google parent Alphabet Inc. to add an employee representative to its board of directors and internally share pay-equity data. They also asked for changes to Google’s human resources practices intended to make bringing harassment claims a fairer process.
With Kayla Simas and Reuters