Google’s head of human resources leaves, employees have tensions with management

Eileen Naughton, Google’s head of human resources, will step down amid growing tensions between employees and management, according tomedia reports. Fortune has previously reported the news. Norton has held various positions at Google since 2006 and has been vice president of human resources for the company since 2016.

Google's head of human resources leaves, employees have tensions with management

Photo by Eileen Naughton Twitter

Since Norton took the helm in 2016, the total number of employees has doubled, adding more than 70,000. But relations between the company and its employees have been strained over the past few years, including in November 2018 when employees learned that the company had paid $90 million in severance payments to a departing Android executive in 2014, despite allegations of sexual misconduct. There have also been protests over the company’s plans to work with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop artificial intelligence technology. In November 2019, the company fired four employees who allegedly leaked information about the company.

Media reports say the company will overhaul the way its human resources department responds to complaints in 2019. Employees say that compared with the past, when everyone can complain to hrs managers in their departments and locations, the way complaints are now filed has become uniform. This has become a problem for employees whose claims will be addressed by people who do not know the specifics.

Norton’s departure comes at a time of slow change in Google’s executive steam over the past few months. In December, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin resigned as chief executive and president of Alphabet Inc. Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO for several years, took over as head. David Drummond, a longtime chief legal officer, retired at the end of January.

All four are involved in a lawsuit alleging that they mishandled sexual misconduct in the company. The media reported in December that Alphabet had been granted a two-month delay in the lawsuit in response. In the delay, the company said it had closed its investigation of executives and would seek mediation.

In a statement to the media, Google said Norton would step down from her current position, but that she was still in the “early stages” of her departure. Google declined to say when she would leave.

A Google spokesman confirmed that Norton would take on another role within the company, but declined to provide any details. She will work with Pichai and Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat to find another leader to take her place.

“Over the past 13 years, Irene has made significant contributions to the company in a number of areas, from media partnerships to leading the company’s sales and operations in the UK and Ireland to leading our workforce through a period of significant growth,” Pichai said in a statement sent to the media. During this time, more than 70,000 people began their careers at Google. We thank Irene for everything she has done and look forward to her next chapter in Google. “