Home / News / World /  ‘Why me? Why now?’: Google lays off pregnant program manager despite positive review

Google's parent company Alphabet on Friday announced that as part of its restructuring process they are going to lay off 12,000 employees. As Google joined the list of big tech companies resorting to mass layoffs in the present economic scenario, a woman who was just about to go for her maternity leave shared an account of how she dealt with the news that she was one of the employees who was impacted by the layoff by Google.

Citing changing economic reality, Alphabet announced the lay-off of 12,000 employees. The cuts accounts for almost 6% of the total workforce of the company.

The layoffs appeared to be structural, rather than performance-based, as program manager Katherine Wong says she was let go even after a "positive performance review".

"The first thought that came to my mind was "Why me? Why now?". It was hard to process and digest, especially the news that came after a positive performance review. As a PgM, my first instinct was to make a plan, but clearly this is one of the most difficult projects I have ever handled as the timing is really bad. It is almost impossible for me to look for a job as a 34-week pregnant and right about to go on maternity leave for months," Katherine Wong wrote in a detailed Linkedin post.


For months, the search giant had refrained from thinning its ranks as tech giants such as Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Meta Platforms Inc. laid off thousands of workers. In a message to staff announcing the layoffs, Alphabet Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai framed the cuts as a way for the company to sharpen its focus on artificial intelligence.

"People are concerned about my baby and well being. I did not let my negative emotions take over as I have a little one inside that needed to be taken care of, but I could not control my shaky hands. It is such a mixed feeling. I love #Google and particularly my team, #GoogleDomains as I feel that we are a family. I am grateful that my team still got my back even now. I have been feeling proud of working in a start-up-like team who is one of the few that's making positive business growth under such challenging times," Wong wrote.

"I want to be able to #opentowork. But the reality is that I need to focus on the last bit of my pregnancy journey, and to make sure my baby comes to the world safe and sound. I know I will be fine and will try all my best to achieve that," she added.

Cushioning the blow, Google announced that the affected employees will get six months of healthcare, job placement services, and immigration support. Workers outside the US will be supported in line with local practices.

"The fact that these changes will impact the lives of Googlers weighs heavily on me, and I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here," said Mr Pichai.

The cuts, said Pichai, would "sharpen our focus" on priorities including artificial intelligence. "Being constrained in some areas allows us to bet big on others," he said.

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