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giftedviz.com November 21, 2018


Google revising sexual harassment policies after worker backlash

09 November 2018, 06:05 | Max Haynes

Sundar PichaiMore

Sundar Pichai

Thousands of Google employees joined a coordinated worldwide walkout a week ago to protest the USA tech giant's handling of sexual harassment.

The Alphabet Inc. unit is making arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.

"Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognise that choice should be up to you", Mr Pichai wrote.

Google will provide "more granularity", regarding sexual harassment investigations and their outcomes, according to Pichai.

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.

Google will investigate complaints made by its contractors against employees and require that suppliers investigate complaints against contractors, the company said. But Google also included a new measure in its new list of policies that may catch some employees by surprise: a crack down on alcohol at work and after hours, at all work-related functions.

"This includes extended counselling and career support", Pichai said, adding that the company would also update and expand the mandatory sexual harassment training. "Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse", the section (correctly) states at the outset, before delving into details on teams using drink tickets to limit alcohol consumption. 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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Demma Rodriguez, head of equity engineering and a seven-year Google employee, said during the walkout that it was an important part of bringing fairness to the technology colossus.

The changes didn't go far enough to satisfy Vicki Tardif Holland, a Google employee who helped organize and spoke at the protests near the company's Cambridge, Massachusetts, office last week. "We've always been a vanguard company, so if we don't lead the way, nobody else will".

More widely, Google's move to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims may energise employees at other firms to demand the same.

Along with sexual harassment, Google needs to address racism and discrimination that includes inequity in pay and promotions, organisers said.

Most notably, it did not comment on calls for Google's board to have an employee representative, and for the company's chief diversity officer to report directly to the chief executive.

The new policy changes announced by Google have virtually met most of the demands by Google protesters, except the one that demanded a place for an employee representative on the company's board.



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