Economy

Google updates sexual harassment policies following protest

Google updates sexual harassment policies following protest

This news, paired with stories about several other men being rewarded for very bad 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.

In an attempt to address a key criticism of how the company failed to adequately deal with sexual assault claims when made against senior management, the CEO said Google will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.

Google said it had no further comment beyond Pichai's letter.

Moving forward, Pichai said Google will be more transparent about how they handle concerns and be more supportive of those who raise them.

The walkouts had five stated goals, including stopping forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination, equity in pay and opportunities, a "publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report" and improved processes for reporting sexual misconduct.

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The company will also revise the manner in which it will probe employee concerns, including streamlining reporting channels, allowing staff to be accompanied by support persons and offering extra care and resources like counselling and career support during and after the process.

Google is also putting the onus on team leaders to tighten the tap on booze at company events, on or off campus, to curtail the potential for drunken misbehavior. "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. Employee-gathered data suggests the company pays men more than women; Google takes issue with those figures and argues women at the company make 99.7 cents for every dollar men make.

"All employees and contract workers across the company deserve to be safe", they wrote in an essay published on the Cut last week. The global walkout spread to many countries in Europe, North America and Asia, including Britain, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and Google's headquarters in Mountain View in northern California.

Employees from New York City, Dublin, London, Singapore, Toronto, Berlin, Cambridge, and Mountain View in Silicon Valley all joined in with the protest and provided a list of demands to Google executives.

Throughout the protests several female employees shared their stories while working at Google, claiming that their allegations had largely fell on deaf ears. Another request is to have an employee representative on Google's board. "We've always been a vanguard company, so if we don't lead the way, nobody else will".


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