Power shifts in organizations today have become possible through increased possibilities of activism. In traditional organizations, the power held by the superiors and line managers limited employee’s response and participation in activism. Employees that participated in activities contrary to those desired by the top management would face sanctions including possible relieving of duties. Sanctions have therefore, been practiced as means of conflict management (Lasswell & Arens, 1967). The case of Google was however, different. The magnitude of the protests and walkout by employees and the glare of the world reduced possible use of sanctions with evident shifts in power dynamics to the employees. Therefore, shifts in the dynamics of power explain the Google Walkout protests and the registered effects targeting the need to address sexual harassment and systemic racism practiced within the organization. Among the positive yields included the attainment of real change, reduction of punishment of employees for participating in activism, and implementation of policy changes that improved the working environment for all employees.
Failure to control sexual harassment manifested at Google. While trade unions undergo and promote training on sexual harassment and racism, various studies have shown that women in management-related positions in these unions lose their status. To separate the effects of these schemes, trade unions use state-of-the-art techniques to describe other changes in the company, its industry, and its state, which could affect the number of women facing these serious cases of abuse. For example, when trade unions developed banned behavioral training programs, the percentage of white women in management decreased by more than 5% in subsequent years. This lack of oversight on how to conduct direct management-related bullying training will lead to an increase in the number of cases related to sexual harassment protests. This means that the existing issue should be adequately addressed to provide for the reduction of protest cases related to the existing case, which means that the relevant trade union must take its position to ensure training is provided. The absence of this effort at Google has been blamed for the events that followed. Introduction of banned behavior training would have helped reduce both sexual harassment and systemic racism.
In addition, the power dynamics aspect also plays an important role in the management of protests related to sexual harassment. The fact is that despite social advances in legal protection and equal rights, women still have a low role in many traditional patriarchal societies around the world. Regardless of a person’s wealth or social status, women are often expected to serve men, whether as a family or as a sexual object, which leads to the legalization of sexual harassment in the workplace. Multi-generational conflict exacerbates this problem because older people (men and women) generally do not care about the concept of sexual harassment and gender equality than younger people. For example, in early November 2017, a private hospital in South Korea was revealed to force young female nurses to perform sex dances in front of their peers, patients, and elderly hospitals for many years, which shocked the international community. Leaders. Throughout the year, these hired nurses were forced to receive choreography after leaving work and did not receive additional pay to provide false “entertainment” and “comfort”. What is even more worrying is that when nurses asked senior nurses for help, they were told that the practice was “normal” and that they should not react in an “aggressive” way. Older female colleagues may not understand or will not understand the cry of the young nurse, but choose to maintain this image of feminine humility for fear of change. Despite the prevalence of gender-based discrimination in the workplace, many women are reluctant to speak out because, in addition to other forms of retaliation, they may be more prone to hatred for women’s rights. Part of the difficulty is also due to the cunning of this sexism, which prevents the discovery of this vicious cycle of sexism. While considering the possible consequences of reporting offenders (such as loss of position or social status), many women are convinced that this is pointless and agree that any effort to seek justice is futile. Most importantly, even women who work hard to get promotions still face barriers to childbirth and often have to retire to raise children.
Essential to note is that Google Walkout occurred due to the failures of the organization to address problems faced by employees in the organization with sexual harassment and systemic racism the primary factors. The “bro culture” practiced at Google came under scrutiny as the primary factor promoting sexual harassment. Part of the bro culture included regular sexual harassment of female employees manifesting through acts including lewd comments, physical violence and pranks (Wong, 2018). The male employees were reported to spike the drinks of female employees with alcohol and send sexually suggestive messages that had resulted in increased fear and discomfort for the females. The possibilities of misusing artificial intelligence with installation of these under the desk of female employees was also pointed to as a factor. The company ignored numerous reports from female employees showing that the male was sexually harassing them. In addition to the above, unequal treatment of employees based on their race and gender was also highlighted among the several issues affecting operations at Google being reasons for the walkout (Campbell, 2018). The company responded to these questions on harassment by firing employees that practiced them with reports indicating that over 48 employees had been relieved of their duties (Campbell, 2018). The protestors demanded for more with policy changes the primary area of interest as this would have a positive effect on the environment compared to firing of employees implicated. Nonetheless, the bro culture was an area of concern and this needed to be destroyed and the organization cultured differently for effective management of sexual harassment and systemic racism.
One of the reasons provided for the Google Walkout protest was the absence of real change. The employees had severally reported cases of sexual abuse with no significant change registered. The protest was dabbed Google Walkout for Real Change because the organization had failed to implement lasting change in quest to stop sexual harassment of employees. The problem of sexism was also tied to racism, two factors combining a driving force that gained social traction (Campbell, 2019). Some of the clauses in the employee contracts were subject to review and demand by the protestors to have these changed. For instance, presence of mandatory arbitration and improvement in pay benefits. Efforts by the officials of Google to call off the protestors were futile as the latter considered this would be effective if the ban on mandatory arbitration was effected in addition to improvement in pay and benefits (Campbell, 2019). The response of the organization as ignored considering this had not committed to registering a real change that would positively influence employees and improve their comfort and confidence in the work environment provided by Google. The move by the employees was political considering they used activism to implement changes in the company policies on areas including sexual harassment, the treatment of workers on contracts and the application of artificial intelligence in an ethical manner. These were manifestations of real change with a shift in power dynamics the pillars making it possible.
The other area of concern was the possible punishment of those that took part in the protests. Flexibility within the work place has come through a shift in power dynamics. The employees have gained more voice over their superiors enabling better coordination of change and implementation of a flexible working system that supports and protects all employees. The Google Walkout occurred in their facilities all over the world. In Tokyo, the protests began at 11.10 am occurring at the same time in other time zones (Fermoso, 2018). The Singapore facility exhibited over 70 employees engaged in the protests demanding for flexibility in the regulatory environment to support management of cases of sexual harassment and systemic racism. However, the coordinated events were meant to protect the employees that had organized the protests. The intentions of the protests did not end at making the world aware of the events within the company but also to provide protection for the protestors to prevent possible punishment for their participation (Campbell, 2019). The ability to limit the retaliation by the company is a show of a shift in power dynamics with the organization embracing flexibility that made it possible to register positive progress in the leadership structure of Google.
Evidently, the Google Walkout provides a reliable example that affirms the shift in power dynamics in organizations today. The participation of employees in protests and activism aimed at ending sexual harassment and systemic racism yielded positive results as the company was put under pressure leading to policy changes and improvement of the working environment. Cultures such as the bro culture were destroyed with reduced effects. Such changes were however, possible through attainment of real change, the difficulty in creating repercussions or a backlash on those employees that participated in the protests, also paying attention to the role of unions and the influence of power and leadership.
Campbell, A. F. (2018, November 1). Why thousands of Google employees are protesting across the world. Vox. https://www.vox.com/2018/11/1/18051884/google-employee-walkouts-explained
Campbell, A. F. (2019, April 23). Google employees say the company is punishing them for their activism. Vox. https://www.vox.com/2019/4/23/18512542/google-employee-walkout-organizers-claim-retaliation
Fermoso, J. (2018, November 1). Google walkout: Global protests after sexual misconduct allegations. the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/01/google-walkout-global-protests-employees-sexual-harassment-scandals
Lasswell, H. D., & Arens, R. (1967). The role of sanction in conflict resolution. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 11(1), 27-39. https://doi.org/10.1177/002200276701100103
Wong, J. C. (2018, March 1). Google’s ‘bro-culture’ meant routine sexual harassment of women, suit says. the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/28/google-lawsuit-sexual-harassment-bro-culture