Google revising sexual harassment policies after worker backlash

Lloyd Doyle
November 8, 2018

"While Google has championed the language of diversity and inclusion, substantive actions to address systemic racism, increase equity, and stop sexual harassment have been few and far between", the employee statement reads.

"But the issues that contributed to the walkout at Google - the company's controversial work with the Pentagon on artificial intelligence, its apparent willingness to build a censored search engine for China, and above all its handling of sexual harassment accusations against senior managers - proved too large for any one worker to confront alone, even if that worker made mid-six figures", he continued. Women account for 31 per cent of Google's employees worldwide, and it's lower for leadership roles.

"Google's leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you've shared", Pichai wrote in his email.

Staff will also face performance review penalties if they fail to complete sexual harassment training. "It's clear we need to make some changes".

Most impactful will be a shift away from forced arbitration, a highly-criticised practice that meant employees were contractually-bound to deal with complaints internally, in what some legal observers have described as being a "private justice system".

And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace, ' Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai wrote in a public message to employees on Thursday.

Mr Pichai claimed that the company had never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and added that it may be the best option, but the choice should be up to the employee, he said.

But the Tech Workers Coalition, which backed last week's action, said the measures did not go almost far enough, particularly where it related to contractors who worked with the firm.

In the letter, Pichai said Google would take the following steps: make arbitration available for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims; overhaul its report channels and provide live support; allow anyone reporting harassment to be accompanied by a support person; and offer "extra care and resources for Googlers during and after the process", including counseling and career support.

Updates and expansion of Google's mandatory sexual harassment training.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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