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Google CEO unveils new policy to address sexual harassment at workplace

12 November, 2018, 13:30 | Author: Kristi Dunn
  • Sundar Pichai

In an email to staff, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai apologised for the company's "past actions" and said he was "fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society".

Arbitration of harassment claims will be optional instead of obligatory, according to Pichai, a move that could end anonymous settlements that fail to identify those accused of harassment.

In response to this, Pichai said in his memo: "We will recommit to our company-wide OKR [objectives and key results] around diversity, equity and inclusion again in 2019, focused on improving representation - through hiring, progression and retention - and creating a more inclusive culture for everyone".

Demands posted by organizers included an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees, along with a right for every Google worker to bring a co-worker, representative, or supporter when filing a harassment claim.

"We're revamping the way we handle and look into your concerns... we will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training. And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace".

What just happened? Last week's massive employee walkout has prompted Google to revise how it handles all aspects of sexual harassment, from assault claims and reporting to support and training.

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"As previously reported, Google allegedly gave former executive Andy Rubin a "hero's farewell" and a "$90 million exit package", despite concluding that sexual harassment allegations against him were "credible".

Last week, the tech giant's workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest what they consider management's lax treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct. The company will not accept harassment and alcohol as an excuse. It's clear we need to make some changes.

Google, which has yet to a modern image and "cool", is in turn caught by the anti-harassment #MeToo, born in the wake of the first accusations against the film producer Harvey Weinstein, last year.

These initiatives are part of a new company action plan Pinchai announced in his note to employees Thursday.

There's been another round of employee drama at Google these past few weeks. It also says Google leaders will take steps to discourage excessive alcohol use at company events, because of the prevalence of alcohol in incidents of sexual misconduct. "Sexual harassment is the symptom, not the cause". It is so common that Susan Fowler, the famed engineer who wrote about her experience with sexual harassment at Uber, petitioned the Supreme Court about a year ago, arguing that the practice should be banned.

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