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first_imgIn New York, more than 3,000 gathered in a city park and carried signs that said, “OK Google, really?” In Dublin, dozens filled a sidewalk. And in Silicon Valley, thousands poured out of office buildings into a common outdoor area and chanted: “Stand up! Fight back!”Similar scenes played out in other cities around the world — from Singapore and Hyderabad, India, to Berlin, Zurich, London, Chicago and Seattle — as Google employees held a wave of walkouts Thursday to protest the internet company’s handling of sexual harassment.The backlash was prompted by an article in The New York Times last week that revealed Google had paid millions of dollars in exit packages to male executives accused of misconduct, while staying silent about the transgressions.“I am here because what you read in The New York Times are a small sampling of the thousands of stories we all have,” Meredith Whittaker, a Google employee who helped organize the walkout, said to a crowd of colleagues in New York. After she called out the company’s “pattern of unethical and thoughtless decision-making,” protesters chanted, “Time’s up.”The walkouts capped a turbulent week for Google. After The Times article was published, the company revealed it had fired 48 people for sexual harassment over the last two years and that none had received an exit package. Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, and Larry Page, a co-founder of Google and the chief executive of its parent company, Alphabet, apologized. And one of the executives whom Alphabet continued employing after he was accused of harassment resigned, with no exit package.But employees’ discontent continued to simmer. Many said Google had treated female workers inequitably over time. Others were outraged that Google had paid Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile software, a $90 million exit package even after the company concluded that a harassment claim against him was credible.That led some Google employees to call for a walkout. The organizers also produced a list of demands for changing how Google handles sexual harassment, including ending its use of private arbitration in such cases. They also asked for the publication of a transparency report on instances of sexual harassment, further disclosures of salaries and compensation, an employee representative on the company board, and a chief diversity officer who could speak directly to the board.Pichai, who spoke at The Times’ DealBook conference in New York on Thursday, said: “It’s been a difficult time. There is anger and frustration within the company. We all feel it. I feel it, too.”He said Google had not lived up to the high bar it set for itself. It has since “evolved as a company,” Pichai added, and he expressed support for the employees who participated in the walkout. He promised that Google would take steps to address the issues they raised.The walkouts, which started in Asia and spread across continents, were planned for around 11 a.m. in local time zones. Many employees — both men and women — posted photos on social media to chronicle their experiences. The images showed dozens of people gathered in different locations, chanting slogans and displaying signs. One read: “What do I do at Google? I work hard every day so the company can afford $90,000,000 payouts to execs who sexually harass my co-workers.”Brenda Salinas, a Google employee in London, did not go to work on Thursday because of an injury but expressed her support for the walkout.“Last week was one of the hardest weeks of my yearlong tenure at Google, but today is the best day,” she said. “I feel like I have thousands of colleagues all over the world who, like me, are committed to creating a culture where everyone is treated with dignity.”Salinas also said contract workers were included in the demands from the organizers of the protest. “That doesn’t get talked about enough in tech,” she said.Claire Stapleton, a product marketing manager for YouTube, which is owned by Google, who helped call for the walkout, said the number of employees who had turned out at protests exceeded her expectations.“We’re optimistic that we’ve opened a conversation about structural change here and elsewhere,” she said.Google employees participate in a walkout at the 14th Street Park near Google’s New York headquarters, Nov. 1, 2018. Employees at Google offices around the world held a wave of walkouts on Thursday to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment. Photo: John Taggart/The New York TimesIn New York, elevator-loads of workers emerged from the company’s Chelsea office and congregated in a nearby park. Some carried “Time’s Up” signs, a reference to Hollywood’s movement against sexual harassment.“There’s a time where the rubber meets the road, and showing up to something that’s this important and meaningful has impact,” said Nick Strohecker, a recruiter at Google who volunteered to help with crowd control.At the park, a spillover of people gathered in an adjacent street. Protest leaders stood on chairs to address the crowd through a megaphone.Demma Rodriguez, a leader of the Black Googler Network, an employee resource group, said that when Google wasn’t a place of equality for women, minorities and people with disabilities, “that means the company is failing everyone.”“I am fed up,” she told the cheering crowd. “We will bring the consequences.”In Seattle, hundreds of people crammed into a plaza near Google’s offices. Bundled in hoodies and Patagonia puffer jackets with Google product logos, they held posters with messages like “Not OK, Google” and “Don’t be evil,” which was once the company’s motto.Alice Lemieux, a Google software engineer, encouraged employees to keep organizing and providing feedback internally. “Laws and policies change because of people like us,” she said.One of the largest turnouts was at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Several thousand employees assembled in a common outdoor area with signs like “Don’t be evil, protect victims, not harassers.” Then many of the employees marched off campus, chanting: “Stand up! Fight back!” It was unclear if they returned to work.Karen Weise, Adam Satariano and Raymond Zhong contributed reporting.c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more