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Key Google organizer Irene Knapp is leaving the company


Another prominent Google employee activist, Irene Knapp, is leaving the company, citing claims of burnout and retaliation for their role in organizing workers at the company.

Knapp, a senior software engineer who has been an outspoken leader for several activism initiatives within the search giant, especially around workplace diversity and safety, announced their departure in a Medium post on Monday.

In the post, Knapp said they “believe retaliation occurred” and that they “just can’t take it anymore,” but did not share specifics, choosing instead to focus on what they see as the bigger picture.

In their letter, Knapp said there was a point when they believed that Google’s support for employee-led actions was “heartfelt rather than public-relations posturing.” Those feelings changed over time, Knapp says, in part because Google’s leaders began engaging in secretive and controversial projects like a censored search engine in China.

“When Google apologizes for things, they’re sorry they got caught,” Knapp wrote. “Don’t let them get away with that.”

Still, even as Knapp joins the growing list of outspoken Google employees who have recently left the Silicon Valley giant — including Google Walkout organizers Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton— they said on Monday that at the search giant, the “movement is strong.”

“I’ve done my best to pass on what I know to others, and there are far more people actively working for positive change than when I started,” Knapp said. “This is a relay race. Not all of us will see the finish, but we will win together.”

At Google, Knapp co-authored a safe-workplace petition that gathered over 2,500 hundred signatures, leading to new rules within the company against the employee harassment and guidelines as to what information could be shared on internal forums. Knapp also spoke out at a number of annual shareholder meetings, including one in 2018 when they called for Google executive’s performance to be tied to the company’s overall diversity metrics.

Google did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on Knapp’s departure.

Read more: A Google engineer got up in front of the board and condemned the firm’s ‘chilling’ diversity failures

Knapp said after leaving Google they will be taking a “few months to rest and recover,” but after, will focus on making activism their “full-time job.”

Specifically, stemming from their work at Google, they will work on creating legislation around advertising privacy. Knapp also said they’ll be joining forces with former Googler Jack Poulson, who created the non-profit Tech Inquiry, to advise and help support activism throughout the tech industry.

“My greatest achievements at Google are the communities I’ve built and defended. I have done all I can to make sure that these places are in good hands and will stand the test of time,” Knapp wrote. “I urge you all to stand by your communities and be there for each other.”

Read Irene Knapp’s full Medium post here.

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (209) 730-3387 using a non-work phone, email at [email protected], Telegram at nickbastone, or Twitter DM at@nickbastone.


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