Google changes policies on sexual misconduct after protests

Marco Green
November 9, 2018

More widely, Google's move to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims may energise employees at other firms to demand the same.

The last couple of weeks haven't been great ones for Google. Advocates for the victims point out that mandatory arbitration is not always desirable as some victims may prefer confidentiality and wish to avoid facing their alleged perpetrators.

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". The breakdowns will include the number of cases that were substantiated within various company departments and list the types of punishment imposed, including firings, pay cuts and mandated counselling.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a memo sent to employees on Thursday that the company will revise its sexual harassment policy after last week's mass walkout by workers, who were protesting what they said was the tech giant's mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives.

Pichai has promised to collect feedback from workers after they walked out in the wake of a New York Times story that detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against a handful of Google employees including Android software creator Andy Rubin and Richard DeVaul, a director at Google's X lab. The report said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 even though Google concluded the sexual misconduct allegations against him were credible.

Rubin derided the Times story article as inaccurate and denied the allegations in a tweet.

Most notably, it did not comment on calls for Google's board to have an employee representative, and for the company's chief diversity officer to report directly to the chief executive.

Critics believe that gender imbalance has created a "brogammer" culture akin to a college fraternity house that treats women as sex objects.

As part of this effort, Google's implementing a new action plan to handle future assault/harassment issues. The protesters demanded that women be paid the same as men for doing similar work, something that Google has steadfastly maintained that it has been doing for years.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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