Google’s former head of international relations, Ross LaJeunesse, has revealed that while the tech giant’s slogan - ‘Don’t be evil’ - used to matter, its human rights policy tells a different story.
In a blog post for Medium, LaJeunesse, who was responsible for Google’s relationships with diplomats and international organisations, revealed his concerns about the company’s ethics.
LaJeunesse said he advocated for the adoption of a company-wide, formal Human Rights Program in 2017, which would commit Google to adhere to the UN’s human rights principles. However, he claimed he was met with a resounding ‘no’.
“Each time I recommended a Human Rights Program, senior executives came up with an excuse to say no.”
The attitude towards human rights policies on the top level extended to workplace culture, LaJeunesse revealed.
“Senior colleagues bullied and screamed at young women, causing them to cry at their desks,” LaJeunesse said.
“At an all-hands meeting, my boss said, ‘Now you Asians come to the microphone too. I know you don’t like to ask questions.’
“At a different all-hands meeting, the entire policy team was separated into various rooms and told to participate in a ‘diversity exercise’ that placed me in a group labeled ‘homos’ while participants shouted out stereotypes such as ‘effeminate’ and ‘promiscuous'. Colleagues of color were forced to join groups called ‘Asians’ and ‘brown people’ in other rooms nearby.
The former Google exec revealed, in each case, he brought those issues to HR, and was assured the problems would be dealt with - but they weren’t, and instead, the HR director told a colleague to “do some digging” on LaJeunesse instead.
Shortly thereafter, LaJeunesse was fired.
And LaJeunesse isn’t the first former employee to reveal Google’s bad culture.
Earlier this year, a former manager at Google had her parting memo go viral, after alleging discrimination and retaliation against pregnant employees.
Now, LaJeunesse is using his experience to campaign against large tech corporations operating free from government oversight.
“The role of these companies in our daily lives, from how we run our elections to how we entertain and educate our children, is just too great to leave in the hands of executives who are accountable only to their controlling shareholders who — in the case of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Snap — happen to be fellow company insiders and founders,” LaJeunesse said.
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