Several employees of tech giant Google, from across the globe, staged a walkout at the company’s offices on Thursday to protest against the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations and its workplace culture.

Last week, The New York Times reported that Google protected Android creator Andy Rubin, and a few other senior executives from allegations of sexual harassment and even offered them huge payouts to exit the company.

More than 1,500 — most of them women — walked out of almost two dozen company offices around the world to protest Google’s handling of sexual harassment and its workplace culture. In India, 150 employees from Google’s Hyderabad, Gurugram and Mumbai offices participated in the walkout.

“We don’t want to feel that we’re unequal or we’re not respected anymore,” Claire Stapleton, 33, Product Marketing Manager at Google’s YouTube, was quoted as saying.

Google employees and contractors walked out, leaving flyers at their desk that read, “Hi. I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone. I’ll be back at my desk later.”

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According to the organisers of the protest, the walk out was done to demand five changes in the company:

  • – An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination.
  • – A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
  • – A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
  • – A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
  • – Elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the board of directors. In addition, appoint an employee representative to the board.

According to a BBC report, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai told staff in an email on Tuesday that he supports their right to take the action and that he understands the anger and disappointment they feel.

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“I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society… and, yes, here at Google, too,” he said in the email.

In a letter to employees last week, Pichai said the tech giant was taking a ‘hard line’ on inappropriate conduct.

The letter was in response to a New York Times report that Android creator Andy Rubin received a $90 million exit package despite facing misconduct allegations.

“We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action,” said Pichai.

Over the past week, Pichai and Larry Page, co-founder of Google and CEO of its parent company Alphabet, “have taken several steps to calm its agitated 94,000-person workforce”.

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According to the NYT report, two unnamed Google executives said then-Chief Executive Page asked Rubin to resign after the company confirmed a complaint by a female employee about a sexual encounter in a hotel room in 2013.

A Google investigation found the woman’s complaint to be credible, the paper reported. Rubin has said he did not engage in misconduct and left Google of his own accord.

Following the report, Pichai sent an email to all employees of the company, stating that 48 people have been fired over the last two years for sexual misconduct.

“We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace. We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action,” he said in the email. #KhabarLive