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Naughton, who became vice president of Google’s People Operations 4 years ago, leaves the role amid increasing tensions between employees and management over how Google treats its employees. She will move to a different role within Google, according to the company although it didn’t specify what role she will take.
Naughton said in a statement that she is stepping down for personal reasons: “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.”
During her tenure, Google has had to deal with growing tension with its workforce after a series of conflicts with employees, including the company’s handling of sexual misconduct claims which led to massive employee walkouts in November 2018 and subsequent accusations of company retaliation against employees who organized the walkout, as well as its alleged crackdown on employee speech in the workplace. In 2018, Google abandoned its development of a censored search engine for China amid employee protests, and last November, Google canceled its weekly all-hands meeting where employees could discuss issues openly with management in an attempt to prevent media leaks. Those meetings are now monthly with topics limited to business and strategy.
Google has taken some steps to address employee issues under Naughton’s watch, including a program making it easier for employees to report misconduct, ending forced arbitration for all employee disputes, and providing more benefits for contractors and US temporary staff.
“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 UK 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,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement. “We’re grateful to Eileen for all she’s done and look forward to her next chapter at Google.”