For Immediate Release:
#GoogleWalkout update: Collective action works, and we need to keep working. True equity depends on it.
Last week, 20,000 Google employees and TVCs (Temps, Vendors and Contractors) walked out to protest discrimination, racism, sexual harassment and a workplace culture that only works for some. By taking collective action, and joining a global movement, these workers took a risk. The risk was calculated, and their demands were reasonable: these employees were asking for equity, dignity, and respect.
What they showed is that collective action works, and when we work together we can make change.
Today, Google made progress toward addressing these demands. The company followed Uber and Microsoft by eliminating forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment. It also committed to more transparency in sexual harassment reporting, and will allow workers to bring representatives to meetings with HR. We commend this progress, and the rapid action which brought it about.
However, the response ignored several of the core demands — like elevating the diversity officer and employee representation on the board — and troublingly erased those focused on racism, discrimination, and the structural inequity built into the class system that separates ‘full time’ employees from contract workers. Contract workers make up more than half of Google’s workforce, and perform essential roles across the company, but receive few of the benefits associated with tech company employment. They are also largely people of color, immigrants, and people from working class backgrounds.
Organizer Stephanie Parker said of the response, “We demand a truly equitable culture, and Google leadership can achieve this by putting employee representation on the board and giving full rights and protections to contract workers, our most vulnerable workers, many of whom are Black and Brown women.”
In addition the company must address issues of systemic racism and discrimination, including pay equity and rates of promotion, and not just sexual harassment alone. These forms of marginalization function together to police access to power and resources. “And they all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top,” Stephanie said.
Sexual harassment is the symptom, not the cause. If we want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we must fix these structural imbalances of power.
As organizer Demma Rodriguez put it, “The process by which we build a truly equitable culture must center the voices of black women, immigrants, and people of color — those who too often pay the most in the face of these intersecting problems. We are committed to making this happen, because true equity depends on it.”
This is a global movement, and the beginning of our continued work, not the end. While we’re thrilled to see progress on sexual harassment, we will not let up on the demands most urgent for women of color: an employee representative on the board, elevating the chief diversity officer, greater transparency on and an end to opportunity inequity at Google and beyond.
We look forward to meeting with Google leadership in working to meet all of our demands.
— Demma, Stephanie, Tanuja, Claire, Celie, Erica, Meredith, Amr, Lauren