The women of Google have come up with a clever, tongue-in-cheek way to raise awareness about gender equality after an investor made a sexist remark at the company’s annual shareholders meeting last week.
When one investor wanted to ask chief financial officer Ruth Porat a question, he addressed it to “the lady CFO.” He then directed his second question for Alphabet SVP of corporate development, David Drummond, to “Mr. Drummond.”
Although Porat answered his question without acknowledging his casual sexism, frustration exploded both online and in the room, with another shareholder, Sonen Capital’s Danielle Ginach, calling him out a few questions later:
“I am sorry to put another shareholder on the spot,” she said. “But Ms. Porat is the CFO, not the lady CFO.”
Now other Googlers are standing up in solidarity by designating this Thursday and Friday as “Lady Day.”
The idea sprouted in an email group for alums of a Google leadership-development program for women. One employee suggested that they should all change their titles to “Lady ___” in acknowledgment and lighthearted protest of the incident. As in “Lady Systems Engineer,” or “Lady People Analytics Manager.”
As of now, more than 800 Googlers —women and men—have changed their job titles in the company-wide directory or in their email signatures.
Meg Mason, a “Lady Partner Operations Manager” for Shopping, tells Business Insider that she sees Lady Day as a fun and “Googley” way to allow employees to “stand together and to show that someone’s gender is entirely irrelevant to how they do their job.”
To help spread the idea, participants created a special logo and internal landing page.
The lack of diversity in the tech industry — across both gender and ethnicity — is a very real issue. At Google, 70% of employees are men and 60% are white, and many other major tech companies have similar stats or worse. Gender equality in the workplace is a countrywide problem too — in 2015, women made $0.79 for every dollar earned by men.
Googlers participating in Lady Day want it to be an opportunity to encourage critical thinking about equality in the workplace.
“It’s really inspiring to have women leaders like Ruth to look up to,” Anya Estrov, another Googler who changed her title, says. “I hope that by seeing this, women will continue to push themselves.”
Besides Porat, Google has a handful of other women in its top executive positions — including seven of the 20 people in Google’s inner leadership circle.
Meet the other “Ladies” leading the company alongside Porat:
Susan Wojcicki is CEO of YouTube.
Diane Greene is an Alphabet board member and leading Google’s fast-growing cloud business.
Jen Fitzpatrick, VP of Geo, makes sure you always know where you’re going through Google’s Maps and Local products.
Jessica Powell heads up Google’s global-communications and public-affairs team.
Lorraine Twohill is Google’s SVP of global marketing.
Kristen Gil holds the title VP of business operations.