Hundreds of Google employees walked off the job in San Francisco this morning to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment and discrimination complaints.
The walkout and march to the Embarcadero across from the Ferry Building was part of a worldwide, coordinated campaign organized in response to a New York Times story that ran last week highlighting a history of sexual harassment and discrimination at Google. In each time zone, Googlers staged a walked out at 11:10 a.m. local time.
Cathay Bi, one of the organizers, said she has personally experienced sexual harassment at Google and was not surprised by the New York Times article, but has decided not to share her own story.
“I did not feel safe talking about it,” she said. “That feeling of not being safe is why I’m out here today. I would love it if everyone felt safe talking about the experiences that happen to them.”
That fear has remained with her, she said.
“There were many times over the last 24 hours when I was going to email the group and say I’m not going to do this, because I’m scared,” she said. “I said to myself last night, I hope I still have a career in Silicon Valley after this, and I hope that whoever I work with won’t take it out against me.”
Protesters carried signs reading “Worker Rights are Women’s Rights,” “I Reported And He Got Promoted,” and “Don’t Be Evil” – referring to a motto the company used to describe its code of conduct in the early 2000s, when it was still privately held, experiencing rapid growth, and quickly taking over the search industry.
Bi said she knows that systemic change takes time and doesn’t expect to see improvements immediately.
“I think if we were to expect them to happen overnight we would really not have the right expectations of how these movements take place,” she said.