Google addresses harassment allegations detailed in NYT report
Top Google executives stressed to employees that the company is “dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace” in an email sent shortly after The New York Times published an investigation into how Google protected three executives accused of sexual misconduct over the past decade.
The email went out attributed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google VP of people operations Eileen Naughton on Thursday. A copy of the email was provided to CNN Business by a Google spokesperson.
According to the Times’ report, the company stayed silent about sexual misconduct allegations against three executives over the past decade, including Android creator Andy Rubin, who left the company in 2014. The Information previously reported that Google had investigated Rubin for an inappropriate relationship while at the company.
But the Times uncovered new details, including a reported $90 million exit package that Rubin is said to have been granted when he departed the company. The Times reported that Rubin was accused of coercing a female employee, with whom he’d been having affair, into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013. A Google investigation found her claim to be credible and then-CEO Larry Page asked Rubin to resign, according to the Times.
The last payment from Google to Rubin is scheduled for next month, according to the Times.
Amit Singhal, a senior vice president, was accused of groping a female employee at an offsite event in 2015. Singhal resigned and received an exit package worth millions of dollars, according to the Times. He was hired at Uber but resigned after one month when Recode reported that he had left Google because of sexual harassment allegations.
The report raises questions about the company’s commitment to powerful men over female employees. David Drummond, who is Alphabet’s current chief legal officer and the chairman of Google’s venture capital fund CapitalG, is also named in the report. Drummond is included for reportedly having an affair when he was general counsel of Google with a senior contract manager of the legal department who reported to one of his deputies.
They disclosed their relationship after having a son in 2007. “One of us would have to leave the legal department,” Jennifer Blakely, the senior contract manager, told the Times. “It was clear it would not be David.” Blakely transferred and left Google the next year.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin is also named as having had an extramarital affair with an employee as recently as 2014.
In the email to staff, Pichai and Naughton called the report “difficult to read.”
“We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action,” they wrote. “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.”
According to the email, 48 people at Google have been terminated for sexual harassment over the last two years, 13 of whom were senior managers and above. None received an exit package, Pichai and Naughton wrote.
They also added that Google has updated its policy to require all vice presidents and senior vice presidents to disclose any relationship with a co-worker, regardless of whether they report to each other.
The email did not address Rubin, Drummond, or Singhal or the others named in the Times’ piece.
Rubin was given a loose leash because of his success at the company, the Times’ story said.
He is accused of having “berated subordinates as stupid or incompetent,” The Times wrote, noting also that his bonus suffered one year after “security staff found bondage sex videos on Mr. Rubin’s work computer.”
Sam Singer, a lawyer for Rubin, disputed the allegations in the Times’ report.
“None of the allegations made about Mr. Rubin are true,” he told CNN Business in a statement, calling them “demonstrably false.”
“Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual and did not involve any person who reported directly to him. He did have a consensual relationship that occurred in 2012. To his knowledge, at that time there were no policies in place that prohibited relationships between employees.”