Thousands of Google employees from all over the world walked off the job on Thursday to protest against the company’s way of dealing with sexual harassment claims against high-level executives.
The protest follows a New York Times report published last week that pointed out how Google covered up for some of its high-level executives and even rewarded them following sexual-misconduct investigations.
The report detailed one such instance in which the search giant paid $90 million in severance to Android software creator Andy Rubin after he was asked to resign over allegations he forced an employee to perform oral sex on him. Notably, the accusations against Rubin, and other incidents involving other male executives from the company were not publicized at the time.
Organizers of the protest, dubbed Google Walkout for Real Change, have called on Google CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Larry Page to end forced private arbitration in cases of sexual assault and harassment. The employees are also seeking that Google ends pay inequality between men and women at the company.
Amid all the hustle-bustle, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made an appearance at The New York Times’ DealBook conference in New York City today afternoon, reported Quartz.
During an interview with Times business journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who questioned him on stage, Pichai admitted that there is anger and frustration among the company’s employees over the issue.
“Look, obviously, it’s been a difficult time. There’s anger and frustration within the company,” Pichai said adding “We all feel it. I feel it, too. Google sets a very, very high bar, and, obviously, we didn’t live up to our expectations.”
Pichai recalled that Google has taken tough actions against accused employees in the past. He added that 48 people were terminated in the last two years.