Google Cancels Talk by Hindu Fundamentalist & Announces New Policies Regarding External Speakers Thanks to Efforts by Workers to End Caste Discrimination at Google


4PM PST Friday, November 18, 2022

Press contact: [email protected]

(Sunnyvale, CA)—Following extensive efforts by members of the Alphabet Workers Union-Communications Workers of America (AWU-CWA) and other Google workers, Google has announced a new external speaker policy to ensure future speaker events do not undermine “Google’s culture of belonging.” This policy change was announced on Thursday, November 17, 2022, less than a week after workers raised concern about an upcoming talk with Rajiv Malhotra, a far-right Hindutva public figure who has regularly espoused caste supremacist and violent views against Dalits, caste-oppressed, and other marginalized people.

Following the announcement of Rajiv Malhotra’s invitation to speak at Google by the [email protected] Google Employee Resource Group, Alphabet Workers Union-CWA invited members and other workers at Google to email Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Chief Diversity Officer Melonie Parker, and Chief People Officer Fiona Cicconi expressing concerns regarding the speaker. The talk was canceled on Thursday, November 10, 2022.

This victory follows a continued effort by members of AWU-CWA and other Google workers to demand Alphabet address the issue of caste-discrimination head-on by adding caste as a protected category in their global code of conduct. AWU-CWA continues to stand in support of Thenmozhi Soundararajan (Dalit civil-rights scholar and executive director of Equality Labs) and Tanuja Gupta (senior PgM at Google). A talk by Thenmozhi Soundararajan was canceled due to discriminatory and casteist disinformation at Alphabet and Tanuja Gupta was retaliated against (leading to her resignation) for wanting to further the cause of caste equity at the workplace. Alphabet’s anti-discrimination policy in India already explicitly prohibits caste-based discrimination, but the company has yet to expand the policy to its US offices.

“We’re proud to see our efforts lead to policy changes at Google that prioritize a workplace culture free from discriminatory discourse. Alphabet must now take steps to directly address caste discrimination and add caste to all of its HR policies in all locations. This is a necessary step that is inline with Google’s stated commitment to a culture of belonging and will establish a safer workplace for all workers,” said Alex Gorowara, Software Engineer at Alphabet and member of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA.

The new external speaker policies at Google include improved guidelines regarding the types of speaking events at Google that are appropriate and help ensure a “productive and inclusive environment.” As a next step, Alphabet management must immediately address the issue of caste discrimination and add caste as a protected category to Alphabet’s global code of conduct. Alphabet must also address caste discrimination at the company through investments commensurate with its other DEI pledges.

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