Oct 28, 2019

Google's culture of transparency is under strain as employees speak out

Leaked audio from a Google internal meeting is sparking renewed debate over just how much the company really wants its employees speaking out.

Driving the news: The most recent issue has been Google's hiring of Miles Taylor, who worked as chief of staff for Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

  • In recent months, employees have also pushed the company on a range of issues, from how it handles sexual harassment complaints to what types of work it does for the U.S. government.
  • "We are genuinely struggling with some issues — transparency at scale," CEO Sundar Pichai said in an internal meeting last week, as reported by the Washington Post.

Between the lines: That's a subtle shift from when I interviewed Pichai earlier this year for "Axios on HBO." At the time, Pichai downplayed the notion that workers were speaking out too much, or even that there was such a thing.

  • "We have encouraged our employees to speak up," he said during an unaired portion of the interview. "And it gives us a lot of insight. I've seen situations where other companies can be blind to potential issues or concerns, so I've always viewed it as a valuable way by which we get feedback."

But, I pressed, could there ever be too much of a good thing?

  • At least at the time, Pichai suggested he wanted employees to keep making their voices heard. "You know, if it's, if it's a valid concern, a real concern, I always want to hear about it," he said. "I've never felt it's an undue burden for how I need to do my job."

Go deeper: The details behind Google's toxic workplace culture

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to less than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,401,701 — Total deaths: 345,060 — Total recoveries — 2,149,407Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,643,238 — Total deaths: 97,720 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy