Google has been accused of hostile and caste-based workplace practices after a speech by a Dalit rights activist to Google News employees was canceled by the tech giant, reports the Washington Post .
A US-based Dalit rights activist and founder and executive director of Equality Labs, a non-profit organization that advocates for Dalits, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, was scheduled to give a talk to Google News employees for the month of history of the Dalits (April). However, it was canceled after some employees expressed apprehension, according to the report.
Some employees then began spreading false information against the activist, calling her “Hinduphobic” and “anti-Hindu” in emails to company executives, according to the report citing the intranet and Google mailing lists and current Google employees.
Soundararajan then urged Google CEO Sundar Pichai to allow his presentation to resume, but his plea was ignored. This led some employees to conclude that Google was deliberately ignoring caste bias, the report adds.
“Meanwhile, opponents of caste equity internally spread misinformation about Soundararajan and Equality Labs to derail the civil rights event into its eventual cancellation,” Equality Labs said in a statement.
“The movement towards caste equity is rooted in love, empathy and justice,” Soundararajan said.
“I cannot find the words to express how traumatic and discriminatory Google’s actions have been towards its employees and myself, as the company illegally canceled a conference on caste equity. Google must address to the casteism within its workforce that allows these attacks to happen and continue,” she said.
She also slammed Pichai and demanded a response from Google’s CEO on the controversy.
“(He) is Indian and he is a Brahmin and he grew up in Tamil Nadu. It’s impossible for you to grow up in Tamil Nadu and not know caste because of how caste politics has shaped the conversation,” Soundararajan told The Washington Post.
Following the incident, a Native American employee, Tanuja Gupta, who works as a senior executive at Google News and the one who invited Soundararajan to speak, resigned over the incident, according to a copy of her email. farewell message published internally on Wednesday and seen by The Washington Post.
In his June 1, 2022 resignation email to more than 15,000 people, Gupta said: “Having been with the company for 11 years, I had many reasons to leave, but this was the only one I needed. In the process of doing my job and promoting caste equity in the company, I saw four women of color harassed and silenced.
“The reality is that these are not isolated events, this is a pattern.”
(With agency contributions)
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Post expires at 5:40am on Monday June 13th, 2022