Google Head Of HR Eileen Naughton To Step Down Amid Unrest At Tech Titan


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Google’s head of human resources, Eileen Naughton, is stepping down from her role as tensions between employees and leaders at the company once renowned for its culture have continued to rise.

“My husband and I have decided—after six years on the road, first in London and now San Francisco—to return home to New York to be closer to our family. I’m at the very beginning of the process, and wanted to let everyone know upfront, as I’ll be working with Sundar and Ruth to find a great leader for the People Operations team,” Naughton said in a statement to Forbes.

Naughton has held several roles at Google since 2006, serving as vice president of people operations for the past four years. Her departure is the latest in a series from the executive ranks. In December, cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down as CEO and president of parent company Alphabet, respectively. One month later, Alphabet chief legal officer David Drummond resigned, his exit following the publication of a Medium post penned by a former senior contracts manager named Jennifer Blakeley, who alleged that she and Drummond had an affair while at Google, for which she was reprimanded and he was not. 

This wasn’t the first time that Google had come under fire for its corporate culture. In July 2017, former software engineer James Damore released a now infamous memo questioning Google’s diversity efforts. Damore was fired, but the company faced criticism for not doing enough to hire and promote women and minorities.  

Then in November 2018, after the New York Times reported that Google gave Andy Rubin, a former senior vice president and creator of Android software, a $90 million exit package in 2014 after a colleague accused him of sexual misconduct, some 20,000 employees staged a walkout over the company’s mishandling of the allegation. Since then, it’s been alleged that Google’s Leadership Development and Compensation Committee not only approved that payment to Rubin, but a $45 million severance package for former senior search vice president Amit Singhal, as well, after he had been accused of sexual harassment. (Singhal walked away with $15 million because he joined Uber, a rival company.) In April 2019, two of the walkout organizers have said that they faced retaliation for their role in the demonstration. Five former employees have claimed that they were fired for their internal activism. 

The extent to which Naughton was involved in these incidents is not clear, and both exit packages were paid prior to her tenure at the top of the organization’s human resources function. She will continue to work at Google, but the role she’ll take hasn’t yet been determined.

“Over the past 13 years, Eileen has made major contributions to the company in numerous areas, from media partnerships, to leading our sales and operations in the U.K. and Ireland, to leading our People Operations team through a period of significant growth—during which over 70,000 people started their careers at Google,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a corporate statement to Forbes. “We’re grateful to Eileen for all she’s done and look forward to her next chapter at Google.”