Google CEO Blames Employee Leaks for Bureaucratic Culture

  • Google’s CEO addressed a staff concern that the company has become less honest with employees.
  • Pichai said trust has to go both ways, referring to employees who leak information to the press.
  • The pandemic and Google’s size resulted in management responses feeling “canned,” he added.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai faced a question from an employee earlier this month about whether Google plans to be more honest and direct with its staff.

CNBC obtained the audio of a year-end meeting hosted by Google CEO Sundar Pichai earlier this month. During the meeting, Pichai read a question from an employee that had been submitted through the company’s internal system, Dory.

The question was: “It seems that the answers to Dory have become more and more like a lawyer with canned phrases or trivia, who seem to ignore the questions that are asked. [sic]. Are we planning to return sincerity, honesty, humility and frankness to Dory’s responses or continue down a bureaucratic path? “

Google employees can vote on questions submitted through Dory, and according to CNBC, the question received 673 votes.

Pichai appeared to blame the leaks to the press as one of the reasons why responses from speakers at meetings may seem contrived.

“Sometimes I think people don’t forgive little mistakes. I think people realize that answers can be quoted anywhere, even outside the company. I think that makes people very careful.” He said.

“Confidence and frankness have to go both ways,” Pichai added.

Pichai also said that the enormous size of the company and the pandemic that forced the meetings to take place virtually were contributing factors.

“I’ve noticed more people reading from screens during the pandemic and I think some of that contributes to making responses feel canned,” Pichai said. “I think people are always nervous to respond in this scenario.”

According to CNBC, Pichai said the concern raised was “a good response.”

Google has faced widespread discontent from employees before the pandemic. In 2018, more than 20,000 Google employees went on strike in protest against the company’s handling of sexual harassment.

Google employees formed their first union in January this year. The union asked the company to change the way it handles reports of sexual misconduct in July.

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