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Ann Arbor Google employees walk out in protest of sexual harassment scandals

ANN ARBOR – At 11:10 a.m. Thursday, dozens of employees at Google's Ann Arbor office walked out, joining hundreds of staffers across the world protesting the company's handling of sexual harassment cases.

In the wake of a recent New York Times investigation that uncovered years of allegations of sexual harassment and hefty severance packages for executives accused of sexual misconduct, employees around the world planned the "Google Walkout," to take place at 11:10 a.m. local time.

Google staffers walk out of the Ann Arbor office on Nov. 1, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
Google staffers walk out of the Ann Arbor office on Nov. 1, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

Although it was a planned women's walkout, men and women took part in the protest.

Senior business consultant at Google Ann Arbor and co-organizer of the walkout Andi Heseltine told her colleagues on loud speaker: "It's been a tough week here, where maybe for the first time in my career here, I was not proud to be a Googler. Google has given us so much and we recognize the opportunities, but that does not excuse bad behavior. 

Senior business consultant at Google Ann Arbor and walkout co-organizer Andi Heseltine delivers an address on Nov. 1, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
Senior business consultant at Google Ann Arbor and walkout co-organizer Andi Heseltine delivers an address on Nov. 1, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

"We are disappointed and we are sad at the response from our leadership or lack thereof," she continued. "The time is up at Google. Time’s up on sexual harassment. Time’s up on abuse of power. Time’s up on systemic racism and discrimination. Time’s up on unconscious bias. Enough is enough. We demand structural change in the name of transparency, in the name of accountability and in the name of equity."

Hours before Ann Arbor's demonstration, Google staffers walked out in numbers at headquarters around the world, including Zurich, Singapore, London and Tokyo.

Ahead of the walkout, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told CNN Wednesday: "We let Googlers know that we are aware of the activities planned for Thursday and that employees will have the support they need if they wish to participate. Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward. We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action."

According to the NYT report, for a decade the company hid allegations against three executives, including Andy Rubin -- the creator of Android. Rubin left the company in 2014 and was given a $90 million exit package.

Not all of these allegations are old. Just this week, Richard DeVaul, a director of Google X, resigned following claims that he sexually harassed a job applicant. CNN reported that he was not given severance pay.

Google staffers walk out of the Ann Arbor office on Nov. 1, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
Google staffers walk out of the Ann Arbor office on Nov. 1, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

"I think a lot of us at the company, we just want answers and we want the company to be held accountable for what came out of the New York Times article last week," associate account strategist Kiva McGhee told A4. "I think it’s really important that our company both talks the talk and walks the walk. We just want to feel safe in our workplace and feel that our voices were heard. I think it was a really special event and I’m really proud of everyone I work with for being a part of it."

Staffers told us they heard about it through emails, managers and calendar notifications. Word of mouth quickly spread about the walkout around the office.

Google staffers walk out of the Ann Arbor office on Nov. 1, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
Google staffers walk out of the Ann Arbor office on Nov. 1, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

"Although it's not necessarily something that’s happened to me, I understand that this is something that is real and has impacted so many lives," said associate account strategist Brandon McGhee. "Just being able to stand in solidarity and be an ally in this moment is important."

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