Alphabet Chief Legal Officer David Drummond is at the center of a media firestorm, following a new Medium post authored by a former Google employee who was engaged in a years-long relationship with Drummond more than 10 years ago.
Though the extramarital affair was originally reported on last fall by The New York Times in the broader context of Google’s permissive workplace culture, the former employee, Jennifer Blakely, says in a new and far more detailed account of their relationship that Drummond was a serial philanderer, leaving his wife for Blakely, then leaving Blakely and the son that he fathered with her for another now-former Google employee.
She adds that Drummond also had “an affair with his ‘personal assistant’ who he moved into one of his new homes.”
We reached out to Google, asking for comment either from the company or Drummond, and have yet to hear back.
It’s an enormously unflattering portrait and it comes at a delicate time for Google, which found itself at the center of the #metoo movement last year, after the Times revealed that another former executive, Andy Rubin, had been awarded a handsome exit package following a sexual misconduct claim that the company reportedly found credible.
In addition to accusing Drummond of neglecting her, Blakely also accuses him of being an absentee parent to the child who she suggests they tried for years to have, writing that “[m]onths or years would go by where he wouldn’t see [their son] or respond to my calls or texts with updates and pictures of him or even ask how he was doing, let alone how he might help out, knowing full well I was alone and in desperate need.”
Elsewhere in her post, Blakely says that following a custody battle over the boy that she won when he was four-and-a-half-years old, “David began providing ample child support.”
According to several sources familiar with the situation, it’s more nuanced than Blakely describes and was not a particularly happy union, though these same individuals acknowledge that much of her account is true. Drummond, who was Google’s general counsel back in 2001 when they met, was married when he began an affair with Blakely, who’d been hired into Google’s legal department as a senior contracts manager. Though Google merely discouraged managers from having affairs with subordinates at the time (it wasn’t against the company’s code of conduct), when Drummond finally told the company in 2007 that Blakeley was pregnant with his child, she was moved into a role in the company’s sales department, far from the company’s legal department.
Blakely writes she had “zero experience in sales” and that it was a hard transition to make: “I did my best to keep up but I was floundering and became depressed at work.”
She left the company roughly one year later, in 2008. She says she and Drummond and their son were living together by that time, adding that seven months later, he broke up with her via text, saying he was “never coming back” to their shared home.
“And he didn’t,” she writes.
Drummond’s star has continued to rise at Google, where he has now spent 17 years and currently serves as its senior vice president of corporate development, as well as the chief legal officer for Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Google has made numerous changes in the face of criticisms that male executives at the company have not faced consequences in the past for sexual misconduct at work — criticisms that boiled into fury last year, prompting an organized walk-out by tens of thousands of Google employees last November.
Among its newer policies: Google no longer force employees to settle disputes with the company in private arbitration, including in cases of sexual harassment or assault; employees can now lodge complaints relating to harassment and other misconduct via a dedicated website; and they can bring colleagues to support them to meetings related to investigations.
Still, Google has never commented specifically on Blakely’s allegations and it will be curious to see if this newest salvo forces its hand.
The affair, and others at the company, don’t seem to have forced dramatic changes to its official code of conduct, in any case.
According to a section titled: “Friends and Relatives; Co-Worker Relationships,” it cautions employees that “romantic relationships between co-workers can, depending on the work roles and respective positions of the co-workers involved, create an actual or apparent conflict of interest. If a romantic relationship does create an actual or apparent conflict, it may require changes to work arrangements or even the termination of employment of either or both individuals involved. Consult Google’s Employee Handbook for additional guidance on this issue.”