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Women of Google's 'Lady Day' a fun response to shareholder's sexist comment

Women of search giant add 'Lady' to their job titles referring to how an investor addressed CFO

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 9:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 11:46am

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."

Other Googlers stood up in solidarity by designating this Thursday and today 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 light-hearted 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, says 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 per cent of employees are men and 60 per cent are white, and many other major tech companies have similar stats or worse. Gender equality in the workplace is a country-wide problem too — in 2015, women made 79-cents 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. 

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