One year after 20,000 Google workers walked out of offices to protest the treatment of employees that have made accusations of sexual harassment, employees at the Internet giant, known as “Googlers” have begun to grow more confident about criticizing their employer.
A report from Recode titled “It’s been a year since 20,000 Google employees walked off the job. And they’re madder than ever.” outlines how following the worldwide office walkout of 20,000 Google employees last year to protest the treatment of employees that have made accusations of sexual assault, Google employees have become “braver” when it comes to criticizing the company.
Recode discussed the effects of the protest stating:
But the walkout accomplished something else: Today, Google employees are more willing than ever to be openly critical of leadership — even on controversial topics like immigration and unionization — and they know they will have a loud chorus of support on their side. Despite Google’s attempts to move on, employee dissent on issues ranging from controversial government contracts to business in China remains a big, and growing, problem for the company.
“The cynic in me says, ‘almost none of the walkout demands were met.’ On the other hand, you could say, ‘look at how woke everybody is now,’” one employee told Recode. “Our organizing meetings are getting big enough that we’re running out of chairs.”
Many employees are reportedly angry that demands they made during last years walkout were not met by Google:
Employees made five demands during the walkout, but Google hasn’t acted on most of them, including having employee representation on the company’s board and sharing detailed salary information on the gender, race, and ethnicity compensation gap among employees. And while the company has made efforts to simplify the process for reporting issues like sexual harassment, dozens of Google employees told Recode earlier this year that they are continuing to face retaliation when they report harassment and other workplace issues. Four of the walkout organizers left the company and two of them have publicly accused the company of retaliating against them for their political organizing around these issues. (Google denies this.)
Recode notes that the effects of Google’s protests have extended beyond Google alone, affecting change in many company’s throughout Silicon Valley:
“I think that what we’ve seen is the widespread growth of something that is shaping up to be a formidable movement,” said Meredith Whittaker, a former longtime Google employee and walkout organizer who co-founded the AI Now Institute, a research organization for studying the impact of AI on social science. “People are saying, not only do I not want to be exploited at work, I refuse to contribute to harm outside of work. I refuse to build artificial intelligence for a military drone program. I refuse to work for the JEDI project.”
The walkout has also had the effect of opening up tech companies’ internal cultures, some of which are notoriously secretive and close-knit. Just last week, 250 employees at Facebook — a company whose CEO last year made it his public mission to find and fire leakers — signed a letter shared with the New York Times that openly criticized how the company allows politicians to run false ads.
Read the full report from Recode here.