Following internal conflict, Google employees petition SF Pride to bar company from parade

Google's Seattle Pride celebration in 2017

Nearly 100 Google employees are reportedly petitioning the San Francisco Pride Board of Directors to remove the company from the upcoming parade.

Google-owned YouTube has recently come under fire for failing to remove homophobic content from its platform while being accused of "exploiting" LGBTQ+ creators for ad dollars.

There was some internal friction earlier this week over whether Google employees could protest the company during the parade on 29-30 June. Employees were told they could protest Google under certain conditions.

"Employees are free to make whatever statement they want personally, apart from our corporate sponsored float/contingent,” a Google inclusion lead told employees, as reported by The Verge. “But they are not permitted to leverage our platform to express a message contradictory to the one Google is expressing."

Today (26 June), many Google workers have signed their full names to a petition directly challenging their company's policies and asking for Pride organizers to drop Google as an official sponsor, as first reported by Bloomberg.

“Whenever we press for change, we are told only that the company will ‘take a hard look at these policies.' But we are never given a commitment to improve, and when we ask when these improvements will be made, we are always told to be patient. We are told to wait. For a large company, perhaps waiting is prudent, but for those whose very right to exist is threatened, we say there is no time to waste, and we have waited too long, already," the employees wrote.

Google did not have an official response to the petition calling for the company's removal from the parade, which it has participated in for over a decade. Google did reassert its stance that employees are allowed to protest on their own terms, as long as it's not done while marching with the Google float and contigent.

The company also said that another group of employees are circulating a counter-petition internally as a way for colleagues to express their support of Google's presence at the parade.

However, the petitioners wrote that as long as Google "allows abuse and hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons, then Pride must not provide the company a platform that paints it in a rainbow veneer of support for those very persons."

San Francisco Pride has since issued a statement confirming Google will remain in the parade. The organization acknowledged that Google "can and must do more to elevate and protect the voices of LGBTQ+ creators on their platforms," but it's ulimately been a "considerate partner" to San Fransico Pride.

"As we commemorate the roots of our movement in resistance, we also understand that San Francisco Pride has become synonymous with the values of inclusion and acceptance. In the spirit of community and growth, we confirm Google as a continued participant in the 2019 SF Pride Parade. Together as a community we will continue our progress, and together we will protect our hard-won civil rights victories," the organization said.

Google also put on a pride celebration at its beach during Cannes Lions, which also saw criticism.

In March, Google admitted YouTube might never be 100% brand-safe.

The Drum recently kicked off a three-part series on the biggest mistakes brands make when it comes to LGBTQ+ marketing, beginning with an examination of how advertisers can authentically fly the rainbow flag during Pride Month.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.