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Google employees at its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images.

Estimates show 20,000 Google employees and contractors participated in walkouts protesting sexual harassment in the workplace Thursday across 50 cities of Google’s global offices.

Why it matters: The walkout has been yet another example of Google employees using activism in response to the company's projects, decisions and all-around company culture. Recently, Google canceled its Pentagon AI drone project and spoke out against Google's project to create a censored search engine for China.

The backdrop: The protest was triggered by a New York Times story detailing several instances where executives either continued to work for Google or were given large exit packages despite credible evidence of sexual harassment or assault.

Photo: Provided via Google.
The walkout

Google’s New York office drew nearly 3,000 participants at the 14th Street Park location. The Mountain View headquarters in California drew nearly 4,000 participants.

  • Several women employees shared their stories of their experiences at Google with the Times which they consider as part of "a longstanding pattern in a toxic work culture further amplified by systemic racism."
  • “I was told that Google was keeping silence for me, and thus I had to keep my silence, away from the press, away from my coworkers, I need to be silent," a female employee said of working at YouTube.

Employees who participated in the walkout are asking Google for:

  1. An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees.
  2. A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
  3. A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
  4. A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
  5. An elevation of the chief diversity officer so that person reports directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the board of directors. Plus, the appointment of an employee rep to the board.

The bigger picture: Women, Black, and Latino Google employees  increased by only 0.1%, per Google’s 2018 Diversity Report. Black and Latino employees also have the highest attrition rates.

What's next: Google CEO Sundar Pichai pledged to take a harder line on sexual harassment issues.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

47 mins ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.