Earlier today, Recode reported that Uber had asked its new SVP of engineering, Amit Singhal, to resign after he failed to disclose the circumstances involved in his departure from Google. According to Recode, Singhal resigned from Google in early 2016 after an investigation into a sexual harassment claim brought against him by another employee. Singhal has denied the allegations, but according to Recode, Google found them “credible”.
Obviously, this situation looks bad for Uber. The company has had a disastrous 2017, and losing a high-profile hire over an undisclosed sexual harassment allegation doesn’t help, especially since Uber has already been under fire for issues involving sexual harassment. Earlier this month, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler laid bare her own experience at the company in a blog post that went viral. In response to Fowler’s allegations, Uber has opened up an independent investigation headed-up by former US Attorney General Eric Holder.
But for Google, the situation doesn’t look much better. According to Recode, even though Google found the claims against Singhal “credible”, he was allowed to leave quietly, basically on his own terms. Google even threw him a goodbye party. From Recode:
According to multiple sources and internal notes read to me, after discussing the claims of an alleged encounter between Singhal and a female employee first with former Google HR head Laszlo Bock and also Google CEO Sundar Pichai in late 2015, he denied those claims at the time. He also apparently stated a number of times that there were two sides to every story.
But, after the Christmas holidays, he then decided to resign himself after a 15-year career there.
Sources said that Google was prepared to fire Singhal over the allegations after looking into the incident, but that it did not have to do so after he resigned.
Sources said the female employee who filed the formal complaint against Singhal did not work for him directly, but worked closely with the search team. She also did not want to go public with the charges, which is apparently why Google decided to allow Singhal to leave quietly.
A former Google employee I spoke to has described the search giant’s HR as “a nasty mess”. They are not alone. This morning, former Google engineer Kelly Ellis shared some of her own experiences with at the company in light of the news surrounding Singhal’s departure. Ellis previously tweeted about sexual harassment she faced at Google back in 2015.
So, the skinny: Singhal was "asked to resign" after it came out that he failed to disclose credible sexual harassment allegations.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
2. Google invests in and partners with Uber. These guys just get shuffled around, with zero regard for the women in our industry.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
4. This story speaks to the importance of getting our stories out in the open. But there is super high risk to us if we do.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
7. As I mentioned two years ago when I talked about my harassment at Google, there was behavior from more senior men that was "borderline"— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
15. At the highest levels of leadership at most SV/SF tech companies, execs are hiring their buddies outside of the usual hiring process.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
17. Which is why diversity at those levels is so tough, & why these guys continue to shuffle around different companies despite misconduct.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
19. Singhal was "asked to resign" by Kalanick but left Google "for philanthropic purposes." https://t.co/4YFiijMKw4— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
When I asked what action would be taken against the guy who harassed me at Goog, was told they couldn't tell me, for his privacy.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
@dvsch After I publicly tweeted about my harassment at Google, multiple women told me about inappropriate behavior by the same guy.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
I'm gonna say something that's hard to admit – it was hard for ME to speak up, because I gained value from being in those groups socially.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
I knew I'd be putting all of that at risk if I said I was uncomfortable. So I kept quiet but talked to trusted friends about it.— Kelly Ellis ??? (@justkelly_ok) February 27, 2017
In her thread, Ellis highlights just how difficult it is for women to public with harassment reports. It also shows that sexual harassment isn’t unique to Uber, but systemic within Silicon Valley.
We should be asking questions about why some individuals are allowed clean, quiet exits amidst sexual harassment allegations, rather than direct terminations.
We reached out to Google for comment on this story but had not heard back at time of writing.