Google Changed Its Sexual Harassment Policies, But It Could Have Gone Further

Brenda Watkins
November 9, 2018

"We recognise that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that", Pichai said in an email message to employees, a copy of which was shared with AFP.

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. It pledged to provide more information to staff about such investigations and the outcomes, and expand mandatory training on the issue.

The company also said in a longer document that it would be changing the way it conducts internal investigations, noting that there would now be a "global process that will allow Googlers to be accompanied by a companion during an HR investigation, or when raising/reporting any harassment or discrimination concerns to HR".

Google will also publicly share its policies on harassment, discrimination, retaliations, standards of conduct and workplace concerns.

"This is an area where we need to continually make progress and are committed to doing so", Pichai said while detailing the comprehensive action plan to address the demands of the Google employees.

Google will investigate complaints made by its contractors against employees and require that suppliers investigate complaints against contractors, the company said.

Excessive alcohol: Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse.

The last couple of weeks haven't been great ones for Google.

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Some teams at the company have already instituted two-drink limits at events or use ticket systems, Google said.

The company also promised to "recommit" to improving workplace diversity through hiring, retention, and career advancement.

Google will end its policy of forcing workers to sign away their right to take a sexual harassment case to court, in a win for the 20,000 employees who staged a protest last week over alleged payouts to predatory executives.

The walkout, which took place on November 1, saw approximately 20,000 employees leave their Google offices around the globe at 11:10 a.m. local time. Google says it will annually release a report on offenses that were and were not fireable.

While the policy changes Pichai outlined met numerous protesters' requirements, they do not include adding an employee representative to Alphabet's board or elevating the chief diversity officer to report directly to the CEO, it said.

Payne Capital Management's Michelle McKinnon and EventShares Chief Investment Officer Ben Phillips on Google employees staging a walkout to protest sexual misconduct allegations at the company and the outlook for the tech sector.

"They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top", Parker said.

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