Google changes sex harassment policies after worker protests

Google walkout

Google walkout

Just a week after thousands of Google employees worldwide protested the company's inadequate response to sexual harassment, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company would agree to the first of the organizers' demands: ending mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases.

Last week, Google employees at offices around the world staged a walkout over the treatment of women at the company after sexual misconduct claims were made against several senior figures.

Pichai outlined the changes, which align with some of the demands put forward by protesters.

Mr. Pichai said on Thursday that Google would provide more details about the outcome of sexual harassment investigations, as well as improve the handling of cases by allowing victims to be accompanied by a support person. "We will provide better care and support to people who raise concerns. And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace".

The reckoning wrought by #MeToo has left Silicon Valley exposed, revealing patterns of abuse and inequality beneath a veneer of progress.

Google isn't addressing another one of the protesters' grievance because it believes it doesn't have merit.

"We have the eyes of many companies looking at us", said Tanuja Gupta, one of the walkout's organizers in NY last week.

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 protest began last week after The New York Times reported on allegations of sexual misconduct about Andy Rubin, the creator of Google's Android software, who allegedly received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded the assault claims were credible.

Google will investigate complaints made by its contractors against employees and require that suppliers investigate complaints against contractors, the company said. "Sadly, the executive team has demonstrated through their lack of meaningful action that our safety is not a priority".

The biz intends to release its policy guidelines for reporting and handling harassment and to give employees a copy of a forthcoming internal Investigations Practice Guide, so workers know what to expect when incidents get reported.

On Nov. 1, more than 20,000 Google workers abandoned their cubicles to protest past cases of alleged sexual harassment, following a New York Times report that detailed how the company protected and gave big payouts to male executives accused of misconduct. The company also promises to revamp its reporting process "to ensure claims are handled with empathy and care, and that individuals bringing forward concerns are heard".

It's requiring all employees to go through the process annually instead of every other year.