Earlier today, a report from the New York Times described in excruciating detail the latitude given to one of Google's former golden boys, Andy Rubin, better known as the "father of Android," after an investigation into sexual misconduct. A hollow statement from current CEO Sundar Pichai notably does not deny any detail of the story.
While knowledge of Rubin's illicit relationship with a subordinate came to light last year via The Information, the specific response from Google — a generous exit package worth $US90 ($127) million paid out over four years, according to sources who spoke with the Times — is both new and galling.
The Times reports that Google's board previously awarded Rubin $US150 ($212) million in stocks in 2014, a "few weeks" after the company began its investigation into his relationship with the woman, who had filed a complaint.
In a email sent to staff and reporters — reproduced in full below — Pichai and VP of People Operations Eileen Naughton claim that at Google "we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate, and we take action."
In a not-especially-heartening aside, they note that "in the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package." Even if Rubin is considered an outlier by these metrics, it's a glaring one.
Sources speaking with the Times claim that "bondage sex videos" were discovered on Rubin's work computer — and testimony from his ex-wife included in a civil suit makes plain the bent of the various extramarital affairs he initiated. The Times writes:
... [S]he claimed he had multiple "ownership relationships" with other women during their marriage, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to them. ...
The suit included a screenshot of an August 2015 email Mr. Rubin sent to one woman. "You will be happy being taken care of," he wrote. "Being owned is kinda like you are my property, and I can loan you to other people."
Google's investigation into Rubin's conduct was a woman in the Android division who said she was being pressured by her boss into performing oral sex. She eventually reported the incident to the company's Human Resources division, and her testimony was found to be credible.
We've reached out to Rubin for comment. Google's statement is below:
Today's story in the New York Times was difficult to read.
We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace. We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action.
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: in the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package.
In 2015, we launched [email protected] and our annual Internal Investigations Report to provide transparency about these types of investigations at Google. Because we know that reporting harassment can be traumatic, we provide confidential channels to share any inappropriate behaviour you experience or see. We support and respect those who have spoken out. You can find many ways to do this at go/saysomething. You can make a report anonymously if you wish.
We've also updated our policy to require all VPs and SVPs to disclose any relationship with a co-worker regardless of reporting line or presence of conflict.
We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work, and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately.
Sundar and Eileen