Google employees around the globe walked out of their offices today to protest the way the company deals with sexual harassment. It was a well-meaning, but ultimately empty endeavor.
The walkout, which took place at 11 a.m. in all time zones, was prompted by a New York Times investigation last month that alleged that the company had mishandled sexual harassment for years to protect key executives. Google said that it has fired 48 employees for sexual harassment over the past two years.
But many of Google’s more than 85,000 employees want the company to do a lot more. One woman held a poster saying “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 coworkers.” Others held signs saying “Time’s up tech,” “Workers’ rights are women’s rights,” and “Not OK Google.” In Mountain View, California, more than 1,000 employees left their desks, according to CNN. In New York, walkout co-organizer Meredith Whittaker addressed the crowd via megaphone. “This is a movement,” she declared to cheers. “I’m here because what you read in the New York Times is a small sampling of the thousands of stories we all have ... the thousands of instances of abuse of power, discrimination, and harassment, and a pattern of unethical and thoughtless decision making that has marked this company for the last year ... This is it; time is up, and we’re just getting started.” The crowd subsequently broke into cheers of “Time is up.”
In a Thursday op-ed in The Cut, the walkout’s organizers outlined their demands: “All employees and contract workers across the company deserve to be safe ... We demand an end to the sexual harassment, discrimination, and the systemic racism that fuel this destructive culture,” they wrote.