Google announced several alterations to internal policies on employee sexual misconduct Thursday in an attempt to improve company culture as well as also develop what its leaders believe will be a more “representative, equitable, as well as also respectful workplace.” The move follows a company-wide protest about its handling of sexual misconduct issues last week.
On Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees detailing the alterations, some of which had been demanded by the protest’s organizers, including an end to mandatory arbitration in cases of sexual misconduct as well as also transparency reports detailing investigations as well as also disciplinary action taken in cases of sexual harassment. Google did not address all of the organizers’ demands, namely promoting the company’s chief development officer to report to the CEO as well as also appointing an employee representative to the board of directors.
“We recognize that will we have not always gotten everything right inside past as well as also we are sincerely sorry for that will,” Pichai wrote in a note to employees ahead of the meeting. “the idea’s clear we need to make some alterations.”
Google also held an all-staff meeting Thursday morning to discuss the alterations as well as also while some were optimistic heading into the meeting, the response following the gathering was much more muted.
“I think the plan will be great progress,” one worker, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said before the meeting. “the idea shows how much pressure we’re putting on. There’s very clear progress on three of the demands as well as also I think that will’s a big win. yet I also think none of the demands will be 100% met by This particular plan, as well as also some aren’t addressed at all. So I think pressure’s going to continue.”
After the meeting, however, the same employee said that will Google’s executives “are still not getting how big This particular problem will be.” To illustrate their point, they described how one person at the staff gathering asked if executive culture had contributed to the problems at Google. The anonymous employee said multiple colleagues described the response coming from management as “tone deaf.”
Last week, 17,000 employees as well as also contractors walked out during the workday to protest a company that will had protected as well as also paid senior executives who had been accused of sexual harassment as well as also misconduct. The walkout, which took place in company offices coming from Tokyo to San Francisco, followed a brand-new York Times story that will detailed several instances of inappropriate conduct as well as also behavior coming from former as well as also current Google leaders, including Android creator Andy Rubin, who obtained a $0 million exit package upon his 2014 departure coming from the company despite an existing sexual misconduct investigation.
One concession Google made will be a partial end to mandatory arbitration, a rule typical of many employment contracts that will prevents employees coming from suing their employer in open court. Google employees asked for “an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment as well as also discrimination for all current as well as also future employees.”
In his email, Pichai said Google might “make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment as well as also sexual assault claims,” though that will route will still be available to employees. One current Google employee who participated inside walkout said the change seemed like a considerable concession, though the idea remains concerning for some employees, as Google will determine which claims meet the requirements to avoid mandatory arbitration.
Walkout organizers also demanded that will Google acknowledge “a right for every Google worker to bring a co-worker, representative, or supporter of their choosing when meeting with HR, especially when filing a harassment claim.” The company added This particular policy as well as also at This particular point allows workers to be accompanied by a support person.
Among the biggest concerns for organizers of last week’s protest was the application of all sexual harassment policies to everyone who worked at Google, including temporary workers, vendors, as well as also contractors (TVCs). The action plan developed by the search as well as also advertising giant, however, says suppliers as well as also third-party contracting companies, not Google itself, will be responsible for addressing the complaints made by non–full-time employees. Failure to address complaints made by contractors could lead to Google terminating its contract that has a supplier or third-party company.
“Sundar ignored the demand for a worker to be represented on the board as well as also TVCs continue to have no adequate protections coming from sexual harassment, as well as also they make up over half the Google workforce as well as also are disproportionately women as well as also people of colour,” said a spokesperson for the Tech Workers Coalition, a pro-worker activist group. “This particular deliberate sleight demonstrates the caste-like system deployed by Google, which fails to protect its workers as well as also our colleagues.”
The initial demands coming from protest organizers also included a request for “transparent data on the gender, race as well as also ethnicity compensation gap, across both level as well as also years of industry experience.” The company did not specifically say if the idea might address that will issue.
Google also disclosed that will one of the biggest factors in harassment complaints was alcohol, which was involved in about 20% of cases. In its action plan, the company said the onus was on team leaders to discourage excessive alcohol consumption through methods including the use of drink tickets at work events.
The walkout organizers responded to Google’s policy change announcement on Thursday afternoon, writing that will while the company “made progress” by addressing some demands “ as well as also troublingly erased those focused on racism, discrimination, as well as also the structural inequity built into the modern day Jim Crow class system that will separates ‘full time’ employees coming from contract workers.”
The blog post will be signed by nine Googlers — Demma, Stephanie, Tanuja, Claire, Celie, Erica, Meredith, Amr, Lauren. They noted that will contract workers at Google are largely people of colour or immigrants.
“The company must address issues of systemic racism as well as also discrimination, including pay equity as well as also rates of promotion, as well as also not just sexual harassment alone,” they wrote. “We look forward to meeting with Google leadership in working to meet all of our demands,” the group wrote.
An anonymous Google employee echoed those concerns. During the town hall meeting held at Google on Thursday, to which contract workers were not invited, an employee asked a question about how executive culture had led to the mishandling of harassment investigations.
“Some of the execs sounded like they were focused on their feelings of being hurt by that will question, at a time when the focus should be on the women who’ve experienced harassment as well as also been further hurt inside process of trying to report the idea,” the employee said.
Earlier This particular year, Google responded to employee concerns regarding the ethics of working with the Pentagon to build artificial intelligence–enabled drone warfare technology. When a dozen employees quit over the contract, called Project Maven, Google promised not to renew its agreement. Channels for employee organization within Google have been coalescing since then; the employee walkout, as well as also Google’s concessions, are the latest sign that will both sides are aware of the unique leverage highly in-demand tech talent holds in Silicon Valley.