Need to Change Harassment Policy: Google Bows to Employee Pressure

Google ends mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases

Alphabet Inc.'s Google said on Thursday it would change the way it handles sexual harassment claims, a week after 20,000 of its employees around the world walked off their jobs to protest its response to such issues.

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".

"This is an area where we need to continually make progress and are committed to doing so", Pichai said while detailing the comprehensive action plan to address the demands of the Google employees.

The company's reporting channels will reevaluated, starting next year, and the biz intends to take a more active role in overseeing complaints against or by temps, contractors, and vendors.

Sexual harassment training will now be mandatory every year, instead of every two years, and Google says it will be punishing those who do not comply by giving them demerits that will impact annual reviews.

Google will also be expanding its Investigations Report to include a count of "substantiated or partially substantiated" claims over time, as well as trends, disciplinary actions, and substantiation percentages.

"Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse", Google said in a released action statement. But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking (~20% of cases).

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.

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

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. "We've always been a vanguard company, so if we don't lead the way, nobody else will". New Google employees (Nooglers) will also get an extra dose of education on the subject.

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.

Some of the new policies were items that the protesting workers had called for, like ending forced arbitration for employees who want to sue over harassment claims. "And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable and respectful workplace", said Pichai.

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