Time's up, Google

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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SEVERAL thousands of supporters globally joined forces on Thursday, November 1, 2018 to protest Google Inc following a recent New York Times publication highlighting the way in which one of the world's largest corporations handles sexual misconduct.

The case of Andrew “Andy” Rubin shocked the world, initiating a global walkout after multiple reports of inappropriate relationships with subordinates going back decades came to light.

As the “father of Androids”, it was no secret that Rubin had significant leverage in the companies of which he is a part.

In 2014, after the numerous reports became known, Google gave him the option of resigning with a compensation package of US$90m to be paid out in monthly instalments over four years allowed, the US$360 million worth of shares that were given to him over the years, delayed repayment of the US$14 million they had lent him to purchase a beach estate in Japan, and they remained heavily invested in his next business venture.

History shows that the company has a habit of giving male executives who have been reported for sexual harassment hefty exit packages to sweep the problem under the rug.

In the last decade, three of the company's top male executives have been subjects of credible reports made by female staff, two of whom have since left the company — with compensation.

The third, on the other hand, remains as one of the top executives.

David Drummond's career at the organisation has not slowed down. Joining the company in 2002 as a legal counsel, the now chief legal officer for Alphabet Inc and chairman of Google's Venture Capital Fund, capitalG, seems to be reaping benefits.

Employees, as well as outsiders, are enraged with the tactless way Google handles sexual misconduct. With 1,500 confirmed supporters, organisers were encouraged by the support of several thousand worldwide. Arranged to start in Tokyo, employees from the various offices in Europe and the United States began to protest at 11:10 am across the respective time zones.

“Time's up”, “Not OK Google” and “Don't be evil” are just some of the terms written on hundreds of thousands of signs. An email sent out by Google to its employees stated that since 2016 over 48 people have been fired, without any compensation from the company, for sexual misconduct claims.

This email, however, only fuelled the angered protestors more.

One of Google's engineers for more than 10 years, Liz Fong-Jones, an activist on workplace issues, spoke out saying, “When Google covers up harassment and passes the trash, it contributes to an environment where people don't feel safe in reporting misconduct. They suspect that nothing will happen, or worse, that the men will be paid and the women will be pushed aside.”

The time for women to tolerate unwanted advances has ended.

The time for excuses like “oh that just how he is” has ended.

The time for being silent has ended.

The time for inequality has ended.

The time for bias has ended.

Time's up.

Abigail Coke is a service associate at Stocks & Securities Limited.

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