Google to overhaul sexual harassment policies following employee walkout

Sundar Pichai

Google will also provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees.

"We demand a truly equitable culture", organizer Stephanie Parker wrote in response to Pichai's November 8 email, "and Google leadership can achieve this by putting employee representation on the board and giving full rights and protections to contract workers, our most vulnerable workers, many of whom are Black and Brown women".

Pichai promised that Google will be more transparent with how concerns are handled, and provide better support and care to those who raise such issues with the company.

In an email to employees, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said it was clear that the company needed to make changes to protect its workers. The action plan notes that harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse but is one of the most common factors among harassment complaints (in around 20 percent of cases). The "excessive" consumption of alcohol will also be discouraged by managers especially at work. Google is leaving the methods for discouraging drunkenness - drink limits, drink ticket systems, or the like - to its execs.

"This includes extended counselling and career support", Pichai said, adding that the company would also update and expand the mandatory sexual harassment training.

But the Tech Workers Coalition, which backed last week's action, said the measures did not go almost far enough, particularly where it related to contractors who worked with the firm.

"[The] company must address issues of systemic racism and discrimination, including pay equity and rates of promotion, and not just sexual harassment alone", continued the statement.

Last week, a Google workers' group, reminiscent of a fledgling union, also demanded an end to forced arbitration - a request the company has agreed to.

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.

There's been another round of employee drama at Google these past few weeks.

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.

But the group said that, although it "commended" the process, some concerns had been ignored - such as their demand for a employee representative to be put on the board.

"They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top", organiser and Google employee Stephanie Parker said in a press release.

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