Google rewrites sexual harassment policy after staff protests

Google Ends Forced Arbitration After Protest Over Sex MisconductMore

Google Ends Forced Arbitration After Protest Over Sex MisconductMore

Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.

Arbitration will become optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, Google said, enabling lawsuits on those matters.

"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 recognize that choice should be up to you", he wrote.

Pichai also said Google will provide more details around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes, as well as improving processes used to handle such concerns, including the ability for its employees to be accompanied by a support person.

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

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

Google leadership also held a town-hall style meeting with employees following the publication of Pichai's memo on Thursday, the CNBC reported.

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

"But the issues that contributed to the walkout at Google - the company's controversial work with the Pentagon on artificial intelligence, its apparent willingness to build a censored search engine for China, and above all its handling of sexual harassment accusations against senior managers - proved too large for any one worker to confront alone, even if that worker made mid-six figures", he continued. The company will also provide more support to employees who report, including counseling and allowing them to bring a companion with them during HR investigations.

Some 20,000 Google employees and contractors participated in the protest in 50 cities around the world, according to organisers. "We've always been a vanguard company, so if we don't lead the way, nobody else will".

"They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top", organizer and Google employee Stephanie Parker said in a press release.

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.

The Google protest organizers last week demanded an end to forced arbitration, a single system for anonymously reporting harassment and a promise that the chief diversity officer would report directly to the CEO.

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.

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