The search giant’s workers have become more political and critical, and they show no signs of quieting down — despite management’s efforts to rein in the debate.
A year ago, 20,000 Google employees made history when they walked out of work to protest how the company had protected and paid nearly $100 million to high-powered Google executives accused of sexual misconduct toward employees.
The company apologised for its wrongs, changed some of its policies related to sexual harassment, and promised to make it simpler for its employees to report misconduct. But a year later, many employees say the company has only superficially reformed. They say employees are still retaliated against after reporting their bosses for bad behaviour, and that overall the trust between the company and the rank-and-file has deteriorated.
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 unionisation — 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 organising meetings are getting big enough that we’re running out of chairs.”
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