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Google CEO Sundar Pichai: 'We didn't always get it right'

Pichai speaks at a conference the day many Googlers walk out in protest of the company's handling of reported sexual harassment.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke Thursday.

James Martin/CNET

Amid controversy at Google over sexual harassment allegations, CEO Sundar Pichai told an audience that Google has learned from its mistakes. 

"These incidents are from a few years ago and we've evolved as a company," Pichai said Thursday at The New York Times' DealBook conference.  

Pichai's session, titled "Soul searching: Technology's role in society," comes the same day Googlers in offices around the world staged a walkout to protest the handling of sexual harassment cases internally.

Last week, the Times reported that Android creator Andy Rubin was given a $90 million exit package after he resigned, reportedly amid sexual misconduct allegations. Rubin has said the Times story "contains numerous inaccuracies" and that the allegations are false.

Earlier this week, Rich DeVaul, director of the Google X research division, resigned after accusations of harassment and misconduct involving a job candidate in 2013, the Times also reported. DeVaul has apologized for an "error of judgment."

On the Twitter account for @GoogleWalkout, there's a list of demands from employees, including putting an end to private arbitration in instances of sexual harassment and assault. Private arbitration can sometimes entail confidentiality agreements. 

During the conference, Pichai acknowledged that there's anger and frustration among employees.

"Moments like this show that we didn't always get it right," Pichai said. 

Meanwhile, Pichai was also asked about the perception that Google employees drive big decisions at the company, like involvement with military contracts. 

"We don't run the company by referendum," he said.