Google outlines steps to tackle workplace harassment

Muriel Colon
November 11, 2018

Google on Thursday said it's making changes to the way it handles sexual harassment cases, including greater transparency, new reporting channels, and making arbitration optional for individual harassment and assault claims.

In the letter, shared publicly on Google's blog, Pichai said Google recognizes it has not always gotten everything right in the past and for that, they are sincerely sorry.

(He does not address discrimination claims.) The company will also begin providing more detailed information about the process and outcomes in sexual harassment investigations. And all employees will be required to complete sexual harassment training each year (compared to every two years as the current policy mandates). A New York Times report in late October claimed that Google had paid Andy Rubin $90 million as an "exit package" following reports of sexual harassment from 2013.

Also of interest is Google's stance on alcohol.

Employees who organised last week's demonstrations estimated that 20,000 workers participated across Alphabet offices in five continents. Another request is to have an employee representative on Google's board.

"For new or vacated positions at the Director level or above, we'll commit to having a diverse slate of candidates on the interview short list", the company says, allowing itself an exception when filling highly specialized roles.

In addition, the company will expect its leaders to foster environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is "strongly" discouraged.

Employees didn't get everything they wanted, but they did get their top demand: an end to forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases. That's happening externally, with increased scrutiny by regulators and politicians, and internally with reports and rising complaints about Google's permissive culture when it comes to executive conduct and relationships with co-workers.

Most of the changes made by the Google are in fact the demands of the Google Walkout protestors who reportedly had a meeting with Sundar Pichai.

If bosses do not clamp down on drinking within their teams, "more onerous action will be imposed", the Google chief warned.

What Google failed to make public at the time was that an employee had accused Rubin of sexual misconduct. "It's not even clear to me that search in China is the product we need to do today".

"We demand a truly equitable culture, and Google leadership can achieve this by putting employee representation on the board and giving full rights and protections to contract workers, our most vulnerable workers, many of whom are black and brown women", Organizer Stephanie Parker said in a statement.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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