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Google updates sexual harassment policies following protest

11 November, 2018, 19:55 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • Google Ends Forced Arbitration After Protest Over Sex MisconductMore

Google will provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees. Will it be enough to quell concerns?

This news, paired with stories about several other men being rewarded for terrible behavior, sparked an internal movement at Google and on November 1, thousands of Google employees around the world walked out of their jobs in protest, demanding change. "It's clear we need to make some changes", Pichai noted.

Those who do report cases will also be better cared for, Mr Pichai promised, with time off granted as well as long-term counselling paid for by the company.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company needed to make some changes.

In an unsigned letter, Google protesters demanded an end to forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases, which required employees to forfeit their right to sue and typically included a confidentiality agreement.

On the current boozing culture he said: "Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse".

'Going forward, all leaders at the company - Directors, VPs and SVPs - will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged, ' the plan notes. Google is leaving the methods for discouraging drunkenness - drink limits, drink ticket systems, or the like - to its execs.

Ultimately, the freedom of employees to go public with sexual harassment claims should they choose to will shed some much-needed light on a situation that has been allowed to fester in the dark far too long. Now, Google, one of the world's most powerful and visible companies, could become a model for how to fix what's broken in tech culture - if it delivers on its promises.

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"We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training", Pichai said.

Employees didn't get everything they wanted, but they did get their top demand: an end to forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases.

The company is also stepping up its training aimed at preventing misconduct.

Mr. Pichai's actions respond to a couple of the five major requests made by employees during last week's protests.

Employees perceive an air of injustice in the way such matters are being handled and took it upon themselves to stage a protest.

"Sundar ignored the demand for a worker to be represented on the board and [temps, vendors and contractors (TVCs)] continue to have no adequate protections from sexual harassment, who make up over half the Google workforce and are disproportionately women and people of colour".

The protest began last week after The New York Times reported on allegations of sexual misconduct about Andy Rubin, the creator of Google's Android software, who allegedly received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded the assault claims were credible.

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

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