Google employees around the world walked out of their offices on Thursday to protest the way the company has treated sexual harassment claims against executives. The New York Times—which played a role in the walkout with a story last week about its handling of such a claim against Andy Rubin, a former executive—reported that the employee protests started in Google offices in Asia and spread to other continents. The walkouts, which were planned for 11 a.m. local time, were also extensively documented on social media through a Twitter account, @GoogleWalkout. Participants at Google’s Mountain View headquarters campus carried signs with slogans like “Believe Women” and “Time’s Up.” Employees told The Information they felt “hopeful” given the turnout that there would be positive change for women at Google.
The GoogleWalkout account also posted a list of demands it said were from Google employees and contractors, which asked the company to end forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases and to publish a public sexual harassment transparency report. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has faced several cases of employee unrest over the past year—including pushback on the company’s plans for its China business and work with the U.S. military. The latest may be his biggest management challenge so far. How he responds to the latest demands could end up giving employees a greater voice in company policies—or ensure that protests will escalate.