Early yesterday, a report surfaced that Andy Rubin, the co-creator of Android, left Google shortly after a human resources investigation found him maintaining an inappropriate relationship with a lower-level employee. Now, thanks to an investigation by The Information, it appears that relationships and misconduct had by leadership within the company has created a hostile climate, primarily for female employees…
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Google, as with many large companies, has skeletons in its closet that it would probably wish to keep quiet. But after interviewing almost 40 current and previous Google employees, The Information has found that there is an internal culture that has virtually normalized inappropriate relationships. The reasoning for this is primarily because most who have been found in these relationships were not penalized or punished for their actions.
While there are the widely reported and known about relationships like those between Larry Page and Marissa Mayer, Sergey Brin and Amanda Rosenberg, as well as Eric Schmidt and Marcy Simon, The Information was able to identify another previously unreported relationship. This time, it was between David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, and Jennifer Blakely, a paralegal in the legal department.
This relationship was kept secret from the HR department until the two had a child together. At that point, the company was forced to intervene and moved Blakely to the sales department and into a position that was not her specialty. Her then coworkers, as interviewed by The Information, stated that Google handled the situation poorly and unfairly. Blakely ultimately ended up leaving Google and the relationship.
This isn’t the only story of misconduct within Google, though. Throughout multiple interviews, employees discussed the downplaying by male employees whenever a female would get a promotion or get one-on-one time with a high-level manager. In many instances, comments were made about the female employees sleeping with bosses or providing other favors to advance their careers.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t just stop with inappropriate comments and verbal assaults. Tracey Kaplan, a Google sales manager who is no longer with the company, recounted a time when she and her coworkers were at an off-site event hosted by Google. While leaving, she was confronted by a drunk superior who assaulted Kaplan by forcibly kissing her.
As discussed thoroughly in The Information’s report, another reason why this culture of allowed disobedience in the workplace frighten many is that of Google’s dominant stance in the world of technology. Many, including Kaplan, feared that if they spoke out, they would be shunned publically and have difficulties finding another job in the industry.
Based on The Information’s report, it doesn’t appear as though Google started to try and fix this overwhelming issue until 2014 when co-founder Sergey Brin was found to be having a relationship with a younger Google employee. After this incident, Google began to heavily enforce a 2013 rule that required every employee at or above the vice president level report any personal relationship with fellow Google employees to HR even if they belonged to a separate department.
What really changed things within the search giant, though, was when Kelly Ellis, a former Google engineer, tweeted publically with specific sexual harassment allegations committed by a number of managers. This sparked the creation of an initiative called Respect @ Google.
This program was meant to provide resources to those who experienced any form of sexual harassment and help create inclusiveness within Google. To do this, Respect @ Google began to share statistics on the number of reports given to the HR department and the results of any investigations. According to a source talking to The Information, the number of complaints and terminations doubled after the initiative was put into place.
If you would like to read the report in its entirety, The Information has supplied us with a link here that will allow you to read the article for free.