Google CEO on employee walkouts: 'Moments like this show that we didn't always get it right'

  • On Thursday, Google employees stage a walkout of offices around the world to protest the company's workplace culture.
  • The protest is in response to a New York Times report that said a former executive who left amid sexual misconduct allegations was paid a $90 million exit package.
  • On stage at the DealBook conference shortly after the protests, CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledges the company "didn't always get it right" when it came to dealing with allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct.

On a day when Google employees across the globe walked out of offices to protest the company's workplace culture around sexual harassment, CEO Sundar Pichai responded to criticism on stage at The New York Times DealBook conference.

"There's anger and frustration within the company," Pichai said on stage Thursday. "We all feel it. I feel it too."

The protests were spurred by a New York Times report that said Google had paid an exit package of $90 million to Android creator Andy Rubin despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct during his time at the company. A spokesperson for Rubin told CNBC that the executive left on his own accord and has never been told of any misconduct at Google.

"Moments like this show that we didn't always get it right, and so we are committed to doing better," Pichai said on stage at the DealBook conference. He said Google has "evolved as a company" as evidenced by the 48 employees he said they have fired over sexual misconduct allegations.

Google is famously transparent with its employees, but in Thursday's demonstration, organizers demanded even more transparency around how Google handles sexual assault allegations against employees.

DealBook conference moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin asked Pichai how he feels about the influence Google employees are able to wield on the company, specifically referencing the infamous memo by a former employee in 2017 claiming women aren't biologically capable of certain leadership roles. Employees spoke out against the memo, and the author was ultimately fired.

"Within the company we allow for a lot of people to speak up, but we have a code of conduct," Pichai said. "Part of having a code of conduct is giving everyone a right to participate in the company in an equal opportunity."