Then Ms. Naughton and Ms. Brown, along with Susan Wojcicki, chief executive of Google’s YouTube, and Ruth Porat, Google’s chief financial officer, answered questions from employees, the people said. Mr. Pichai attended, but Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who sometimes appear at staff meetings, did not.
The meeting lasted over an hour, the people said. Some workers asked why contractors did not get the same protection from harassment as full-time employees. In an answer to another question about how to change Google’s executive culture, Urs Hölzle, a senior vice president and one of the earliest employees, urged staff to view executives as individuals and not as one group, the people said.
Another employee said Mr. Pichai also seemed dismissive of the idea of an employee representative on the board. Mr. Pichai said that was a decision for the board to make, the person said.
Google declined to comment on the meeting details.
After The Times reported on how Google had generously treated executives accused of sexual misconduct, Mr. Pichai and Mr. Page apologized to employees. Mr. Pichai also said that Google had fired 48 people over two years in response to claims of harassment and that none had received an exit package.
But their statements did little to quell growing employee anger. Many workers expressed their unhappiness on internal message boards and in meetings, as well as on Twitter and other social media. Some began to organize a walkout.
[Read our columnist’s interview with Mr. Pichai: “Technology Doesn’t Solve Humanity’s Problems.”]
On Thursday last week, around 20,000 Google employees walked out of work across the globe — including in Singapore, in London and at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. — to show their dissatisfaction. They chanted slogans such as “Stand up! Fight back!” Some also held signs that said “Time’s Up” and “Don’t be evil, protect victims, not harassers.”
The employees also listed their demands. The call for more transparency was spurred by how Google often handles internal complaints through its employee relations department, which is staffed by many employment lawyers. Current and former employees have said complainants are often not told about the details of subsequent investigations, while some said they did not know they were being investigated by employee relations until questioned about what actions they had taken.