No golden handshake for sex-pest suspect, says Google
Google employee, Android creator Andy Rubin, purportedly received an exit package worth $90m amid allegations of misconduct
San Francisco — Google parent Alphabet on Wednesday confirmed that an executive accused of sexual harassment left the company without an exit package as tension over its handling of such matters heightened.
Word that Rich DeVaul, a director at X lab devoted to “moonshots” such as internet service from balloons, was out on the street came with reports that female employees were organising a walkout on Thursday to protest against lenient handling of sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Alphabet declined to give details about DeVaul’s departure from the company on Tuesday.
A Google Walkout For Real Change account that sprang to life on Twitter late on Wednesday said that employees and contractors would leave their workplaces late on Thursday morning in the various time zones. Demands posted in the tweet included improved processes for reporting sexual misconduct and resolving cases of harassment, as well as a commitment by Google to pay for and provide equity opportunity.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a message to employees late on Tuesday, a copy of which was posted online by technology news website Ars Technica.
Pichai said he has heard from many employees on the subject of inappropriate behaviour at work and was “deeply sorry for the past actions and the pain they have caused employees. As CEO, it’s been personally important to me that we take a much harder line on inappropriate behaviour.”
He reiterated that Google had fired 48 employees in the past two years — including 13 senior executives — as a result of sexual harassment allegations.
Pichai has met with Google employees about the issue since The New York Times reported last week that a senior Google employee, Android creator Andy Rubin, received an exit package worth $90m as he faced allegations of misconduct, and that Google had covered up other claims of sexual harassment.
Sam Singer, a spokesperson for Rubin, rejected the allegations against him in a statement to AFP, saying Rubin left Google of his own accord to launch venture capital firm and technology incubator Playground.
Asked by AFP and other media for its reaction, Google released an e-mail sent to employees from Pichai stating that none of the people who resigned or were terminated due to sexual harassment concerns in the past two years received “an exit package”.
“We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace,” Pichai said in the e-mail shared last week. “We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action.”
Concerns being expressed by women at Alphabet have added to the growing chorus of voices denouncing the existence of a sexist culture in male-dominated Silicon Valley, which has knocked a number of internet industry executives at other tech giants from their perches.
Accusations concerning the lack of women in tech jobs and unfair or crude treatment endured by some in the industry have simmered for years, occasionally boiling over.