Google Staff Walkout: What Does This Mean For Digital Culture And Activism?

On the first of November, staff at Google offices around the world instigated an unprecedented series of walkouts in protest to allegations of sexual misconduct towards women, along with multiple claims of systematic racism, within the company.

What Led To The Google Walkout?

Google employees organised this walkout to bring attention to the need for critical internal changes regarding how misconduct allegations are processed and handled within the company, including an end to forced arbitration.

Forced arbitration is a common contract clause for Silicon Valley workers which means that all disputes must dealt with internally. Many critics of this clause argue that it allows protection for the reputations of both the company and the accused, whilst silencing victims who are unable appeal decisions or take any further action.

Who Participated In The Walkout?

Google staff from their Singapore, Zurich, London, Tokyo, Berlin and New York offices all participated in this walkout following information published in the New York Times which alleged that one high-profile executive received a £69m payout after leaving the firm, despite a credible allegation of sexual misconduct made against them.

What Are Google Staff Looking To Change Within The Company?

The BBC reported that the formal demands that were made to Google management included;

  1. A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality
  2. A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report
  3. A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously
  4. The elevation of the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO, and make recommendations directly to the board of directors
  5. The appointment of an employee representative to the board
  6. An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees.

This event is the latest in an increasing trend of employee activism and a demand not only for these industries to be more accessible for women, but the need for these industries to be explicitly safe for women to work in.

What Does This Mean For The Future Of The Digital And Tech Industry

At the start of 2018, the #MeToo movement was still firmly positioned at the forefront of global news, with high-profile women within the entertainment and technology industry demanding an end to sexual misconduct and the mistreatment of women within the workplace.

This walkout from Google highlights how employees have the power to take action which demands change within the industry, and offers a blueprint for how these demonstrations can make an impact and force people to listen to what needs to be done for progress to happen.

At Digital Cake we want to ensure that the digital industry is always a safe, engaging and exciting industry for women, which is why on the eighth of March this year we launched Girl Code, a space for women within the industry that allows them to discuss their own experiences and network with inspiring like-minded women!

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