Thursday, 13 Jun 2024

We must do better on sex harassment, says Google Ireland chief

Search engine giant Google needs to do better in dealing with issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, its head of Irish operations has said.

Fionnuala Meehan, head of Google Ireland, also confirmed that none of the company’s employees here has been fired for sexual harassment.

The company supported its workers who staged a walk out last week in protest at the company’s handling of sexual harassment in the workplace, according to Ms Meehan.

Almost 20,000 workers got up and left from 40 of Google’s offices around the world, including in Dublin.

“We set very high standards for ourselves as a company, and I think it is clear from the upset and disappointment that we all felt that we need to do more.

“And we need to listen more,” Ms Meehan told RTÉ yesterday.

“And part of that was supporting the walkouts last week and listening to the types of ideas that those groups have,” she added.

Ms Meehan said that the issue was taken very seriously.

“We have a wonderful culturally diverse place to work here. But I think the thing that binds us together is respect,” she said.

“And we talk about those values and respect from the moment somebody is hired,” she told the national broadcaster.

Ms Meehan was speaking as the company marked the 15th anniversary of setting up an office in Ireland.

It now employs more than 7,000 people here.

Last month ‘The New York Times’ reported how Google fired 48 employees – including 13 senior executives – and paid them millions of dollars in exit packages as a result of sexual harassment allegations.

It said that the figure was for the number dismissed over the last two years, and none of them received an exit package.

However, Android creator Andy Rubin left Google in 2014 with a reported $90m (€79m) golden parachute.

He is one of three executives the company is accused of protecting and supporting after being accused of sexual misconduct. Mr Rubin has denied any allegations of misconduct and said the figure was over-inflated.

Richard DeVaul, a director at a unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, recently resigned from the company after he was accused of sexually harassing a female job applicant.

When asked about the cases, Google’s vice-president for people operations Eileen Naughton said the company takes all complaints seriously.

“In recent years, we’ve taken a particularly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority,” she said. “We’re working hard to keep improving how we handle this type of behaviour,” she added.

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