Google bends to protestors' demands after sexual harassment 'walkout'

Carla Harmon
November 9, 2018

In a memo to employees on Thursday, the Indian-origin CEO said, "We recognise that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that". "This is an area where we need to continually make progress and are committed to doing so".

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.

"We will enhance the processes we use to handle concerns, including the ability for Googlers to be accompanied by a support person", Pichai said.

The walkout by Google employees was in protest against sexual harassment at the company and its improper handling of sexual misbehaviour allegations against top executives. That's happening externally, with increased scrutiny by regulators and politicians, and internally with reports and rising complaints about Google's permissive culture when it comes to executive conduct and relationships with co-workers.

Google will update its mandatory sexual harassment training, and require it annually instead of every two years as had been the case.


"Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse", Mr Pichai wrote.

After years as a free-wheeling, fast-growing startup, Google is trying to adjust to the responsibilities and realities of being one of the world's most powerful companies. Our policy is clear: Excessive consumption of alcohol is not permitted when you are at work, performing Google business, or attending a Google-related event, whether onsite or offsite. "Perpetrators" had been drinking in about 20 per cent of the harassment cases at Google, it said.

Several steps will be taken to provide better care for those seeking to make claims, including extended counselling and support for accommodations and company leave.

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.

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.


"For new or vacated positions at the Director level or above, we'll commit to having a diverse slate of candidates on the interview short list", the company says, allowing itself an exception when filling highly specialized roles.

"But we also have goals as a company and we can't decide we are going to miss those".

Now playing: Watch this: Google employees protest tech giant's handling of sexual.

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

In a statement organisers commended Google for the response, but said more changes are needed.


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