Google has a historically positive reputation for championing progressive and employee-first policies.
However, more recently, its policies have been thrown into question by a string of reports that highlight internal sexual harassment issues, presenteeism and a lack of engagement with affected employees.
In April this year, Google staff led a mass-walkout by some 20,000 of the company’s global worker base and accused the company of “not doing enough to ensure the welfare of staff”.
Now, a leaked internal email to all employees has gone viral for seemingly discouraging staff from protesting recent perceived anti-LGBT+ policies set in place at both the Google and YouTube platforms.
Employees were “furious” to discover that recent policy decisions regarding a case involving conservative YouTuber, Steven Crowder, and Vox Journalist, Carlos Maza, which earlier this month became a subject of debate for seemingly favouring the conservative and anti-LGBT+ point of view.
In a recent letter to Google’s LGBT+ employees, CEO Sundar Pichai said that he echoes YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s recent apology to the community and vowed that the company would take a “hard look” at its harassment policies.
Now, the company has confirmed that any protest against such policies would be considered a breach of company communications policy and as such, workers may face disciplinary measures. The full letter read: “Employees are free to make whatever statement they want personally, apart from our corporate sponsored float/contingent,” the inclusion lead told the member of Gayglers.
“But they are not permitted to leverage our platform to express a message contradictory to the one Google is expressing.”
The decision to quell any Pride-related protests was poorly received by workers who believe that their rights are being threatened by the company. One employee told The Verge: “YouTubers who use our platform and sometimes get significant revenue get to claim free speech to keep using our platform...but LGBT+ Googlers get no free speech to say that Google doesn’t represent us.
“That’s ironic at best, but hypocritical...specifically ironic trying to curb our speech on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall march riots.”
Exactly how the company plans on dealing with such protests is unknown, yet workers have been seen sporting flags and t-shirts with protest slogans on.