Google revising sexual harassment policies after worker backlash

09 Novembre, 2018, 03:25 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • In Mountain View Dublin New York and more Google employees walked out to protest the way Google handles sexual misconduct allegations

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. The reason for his departure? According to the Times' report, Android creator Andy Rubin was accused by a worker of having coerced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2013. The woman later reported the incident, which Google found credible, leading to Rubin's exit.

"We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training", Pichai said.

The organizers behind the Google walkouts published a list of actionable demands, including ending forced arbitration for harassment and discrimination and a "commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity".

In a letter sent to all employees, the company's chief executive Sundar Pichai said Google was updating its rules, including introducing a drinking limit for staff.

Pichai released a public memo in which he said that arbitration, a quasi-legal private dispute resolution process that often favors corporations over individuals, would now be "optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims". These details will include "the number of substantiated or partially substantiated concerns over time, by function".

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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.

Most impactful will be a shift away from forced arbitration, a highly-criticised practice that meant employees were contractually-bound to deal with complaints internally, in what some legal observers have described as being a "private justice system". They had called on Alphabet to add an employee to its board and share gender-related pay data, neither of which Mr. Pichai addressed.

Google is rewriting its policies on workplace sexual harassment following a staff walkout over its perceived failings to tackle abuses.

"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.

You can read the email in its entirety here. And there's something grossly infantilizing about the section of the announcement devoted to reminding Google employees that "the onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams".

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