05 November 2018
How Google's employee walkout will strengthen the company's reputation
Dr Michael Etter, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Digitisation at King's Business School
Thousands of employees walked out of Google’s offices around the world on November 1 to draw attention to Google’s mishandling of sexual harassment claims and unequal pay, as reported in the New York Times.
The pictures of protesting employees appearing on our news feeds may be a bit surprising. For years we have gotten used to pictures of happy Google employees in colourful offices playing ping-pong, inspiring each other in creativity booths, and chatting over after-work beers.
But while it may be tempting to think that this highly visible protest will have a negative effect, the walkout may actually strengthen Google’s reputation. It suggests that a large majority of Google employees stand up for the right thing. More than 60% of all employees joined the walkout.
While sexual harassment and its mishandling are among the worst indicators of a toxic culture, the widely supported walkout signals the exact opposite: this is a company with a culture that empowers employees to stand up and participate. It signals that Google employees are convinced that they can make a difference and do not fear retaliation for doing so. Even CEO Sundar Pichai expressed his support for the walkout.
Read Dr Michael Etter's full article on The Conversation.