FORTUNE.COM // JUNE .1 .19
very top of a company run by executives
who are increasingly driven by conventional
Now Google finds itself in the awkward
position of trying to temper the radical cul-
ture that it spent the past 20 years stoking.
Boasting more than 100,000 employees
between Google and its parent company,
Alphabet, executives acknowledge that the
company is struggling to balance its size
with maintenance of the principles, like
employee voice, that were so foundational.
“You can’t go through that kind of growth
without the culture needing to evolve,”
says Jen Fitzpatrick, a Google SVP and a
member of CEO Sundar Pichai’s leadership
team. (Pichai declined FortuneÕs requests
for an interview.) The company says it is
trying to manage its ballooning diversity
of perspectives and projects, as well as do
a better job predicting the kinds of issues for which employees will
demand full transparency. However, it adds that the activist em-
ployees are a small but vocal group, and that their opinions don’t
represent those of employees at large.
“Twenty-eighteen was a different year for us—the magnitude and
the nature of some of these issues is just different,” says Brian Welle,
VP of people analytics at Google. The tumult was reflected in the
results of the annual companywide Googlegeist survey, which was
leaked to the press in February. Key metrics were down double-
digit percentage points over 2017. For instance, while 74% of re-
spondents said they had confidence in Pichai and the management
team, that’s an 18 percentage point drop from the previous year.
Most challenging to Google is employees’ refusal to keep their dis-
content within the company’s walls, a strategy that’s been bolstered
LOKMAN TSUI : Google’s former head of free expression in AsiaPac
WHO DECIDES WHAT
GOOGLE IS? IS IT LEADERSHIP
MAKING CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE
Walkout organizer Meredith Whittaker has also
protested some Google business decisions.