Google hit with backlash over poor treatment of women

  • Google has come under fire for reportedly targeting people who organised protests over the poor treatment of women at the firm.

    When 20,000 Google employees staged a walk-out protest back in November, they hoped to send a message to management that the company's policies dealing with sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace were not good enough. The protests followed a high-profile case in which a high-ranking employee accused of sexual misconduct was given a £69m payout after leaving the firm.

    At the time, employees demanded that Google create and publish a public policy regarding sexual harassment and misconduct, and that it end the policy of forced internal arbitration that they feel has been used to silence victims. Now several of those at Google who helped organise the walkouts claim that they've been retaliated against in their jobs.

    YouTube Marketing Manager Claire Stapleton wrote in a letter to other employees that she had been told she was being demoted following the protest, and that the human resources department was ignoring her. "My work was given to other people, and I was told to go on medical leave, even though I'm not sick," she wrote, adding that "Only after I hired a lawyer and had her contact Google did management conduct an investigation and walked back my demotion, at least on paper."

    Google has also come under fire for its recent failed attempt to launch an AI ethics council, which invited outspoken anti-LGBT-rights Kay Cole James to sit on the panel. The council was abandoned just a week after it was launched, but that isn't the end of the story. Following Google's abandonment of the council, AI researcher Meredith Whittaker was told that in order to remain at Google she would have to give up her role in the "AI Now Institute" research centre that she co-founded and "abandon" her work on AI ethics.

    Source: BBC News, Wired, The Times

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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