Google CEO Sundar Pichai Says Company Fired 48 People For Sexual Harassment

Sundar Pichai Google

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email to employees saying the technology giant has fired 48 people over the past two years for sexual harassment, including 13 “senior managers and above,” none of whom collected an exit package.

The companywide message comes in response to a blockbuster New York Times story, detailing how Google handed Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, a $90 million exit package and lauded him even as it kept silent about allegations of sexual misconduct.

Rubin was one of three executives who were accused of sexual misconduct over the past decade that Google protected, the Times reported. In two instances, the executives were ousted — but paid millions of dollars as they walked out the door. A third executive remained in a highly compensated post at the company.

Through a spokesman, Rubin said he voluntarily left Google and denied engaging in misconduct.

Pichai said he found the account “difficult to read,” and sought to reassure employees that it is committed to a safe workplace, according to an email sent to employees Pichai, and Eileen Naughton, Google’s vice president of people operations and provided by a Google spokesperson.

Here’s the email:

Hi everyone,

Today’s story in the New York Times was difficult to read.

We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace. We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action.

In recent years, we’ve made a number of changes, including taking an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority: in the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package.

In 2015, we launched Respect@ and our annual Internal Investigations Report to provide transparency about these types of investigations at Google.  Because we know that reporting harassment can be traumatic, we provide confidential channels to share any inappropriate behavior you experience or see. We support and respect those who have spoken out. You can find many ways to do this at go/saysomething. You can make a report anonymously if you wish.

We’ve also updated our policy to require all VPs and SVPs to disclose any relationship with a co-worker regardless of reporting line or presence of conflict.

We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work, and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately.

Sundar and Eileen

The Times notes that Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, fostered a permissive culture. Page dated Marissa Mayer, one of the company’s early engineers who went on to lead Yahoo (both were single at the time). Former CEO Eric Schmidt brought in a mistress to work as a company consultant, the newspaper reported. Brin reportedly had a consensual extramarital affair with an employee, according to the publication’s sources.

The article recounted how Google’s former general counsel, David Drummond, had an extramarital relationship with a woman who reported to one of his deputies. He remains at the company, as Alphabet’s chief legal officer and chairman of CapitalG, Google’s venture fund. The woman is gone.

Richard DeVaul, a director at Google X, the company’s research and development arm, told one job candidate that he and his wife were in a “polyamorous” relationship, and invited her to join him at the Burning Man festival in Nevada, the Times reported. Thinking this presented an opportunity to talk about the job, the woman went — and was asked to remove her shirt and submit to a back rub.

Upon returning from the trip, she learned she didn’t get the job. In a statement, DeVaul apologized for an “error of judgment.”

Google paid Amit Singhal, a senior vice president who headed search, was accused of groping an employee at an offsite. Google found the allegation credible, the Times reported, and handed him an exit package that paid him millions of dollars.

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