Googlers behind last November’s 20,000-strong walkout have taken to Medium to voice their displeasure with the lackluster results, allegedly including retaliation against some of those involved, and demand that the company make sweeping and immediate changes. This comes after a sit-in on May 1, 2019 that didn’t seem to get much in the way of results. To ensure some traffic for the issue on social media, organizers have attached the hashtag #NotOkGoogle to the Medium article, a play on Google Assistant’s wake phrase that’s already seen tons of traffic on Twitter. What organizers will do if those changes are not made, however, is not clearly addressed.
The organizers’ demands are relatively straightforward. First, they want Google to comply with the original demands of the walkout. Second, they want Larry Page himself to address those demands publicly. Third, they want Google to grant demands regarding two named employees whose transfers between departments were blocked, among other issues. Finally, they’re looking for a fully transparent investigation of Google’s HR practices by a qualified third party with no vested interest in the company.
The walkout happened back in November of 2018, and took place on a global scale. It involved around 4,000 employees from Google’s main campus in Mountain View, and roughly 3,000 from the New York office, among others. There were five core demands involved in that walkout; the end of forced arbitration in cases involving harassment and discrimination, action against pay and opportunity inequality based on racism or sexism, a “clear, uniform” process for reporting sexual misconduct anonymously, a regular public report on what the company’s doing to address sexual harassment, and finally, a twofold demand to have the company’s Chief Diversity Officer report directly to CEO Sundar Pichai, and to have an employee representative elected to the board whose sole job will be to represent employee interests, with no financial ties or other vested interest in the larger company or upper management.
Pichai, for his part, earlier stated that the company has its leaders in place for a reason. He stated that the company is doing a good job of giving employees a voice, and that there’s no need for the company to bend over backwards and change things from the deepest levels on up just to make a more accommodating work environment. The recent sit-in and now this Medium article with new demands, however, argue against his point. Walkout organizers claim that the company has “lost its mooring”, and is moving “from crisis to crisis” as it scrambles to balance the needs of the business with the needs of both employees and users.
The complex and far-reaching nature of this conflict and the demands set forth means that things at the company could become very different very soon, depending on how things go. Thus far, there’s been no direct reply from the company regarding this Medium article and the new demands set forth therein. The set of changes that employees are demanding would cause an essential shift in company culture that would give employees more power than ever to determine how the company’s day-to-day business and larger deals are handled.