Hundreds of Google employees in Asia walked off the job briefly Thursday as part of a worldwide protest of the company’s handling of sexual harassment cases and its workplace culture.
Hundreds of other Google workers and contractors, most of them women, are also expected Thursday to walk out of nearly two dozen company offices around the world.
The walkouts are the latest indications of employee dissatisfaction that escalated last week after the New York Times reported the internet giant paid millions of dollars in severance pay to male executives accused of harassment without disclosing their wrongful acts.
The Times report said, for example, that Google paid $90 million in 2014 to then-senior vice president Andy Rubin after he was accused of sexual harassment. Rubin denied the allegations in the article, which Google did not dispute.
The report energized a months-long employee movement to improve treatment of women and minorities and increase diversity. The movement earlier this year included petition drives, meetings with senior executives and training from the workers’ rights group Coworker.org.
Organizers demanded late Wednesday that Google parent Alphabet Inc. add a worker representative to its board of directors and internally disclose pay equity information. Employees also asked the company to revise their human resources practices to make the harassment claims filing process more equitable.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said “employees have raised constructive ideas” which the company will turn “into action.”
Dissatisfaction among Alphabet’s 94,000 workers and tens of thousands of contractors has not adversely affected the company’s share price. But employees have said they expect Alphabet to have recruiting and retention problems if the problems are not adequately addressed.