Google updates sexual harassment policies following protest

Google ends mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases

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.

"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".

With regard to training, Google says that starting next year, all employees will be required to complete sexual harassment training annually (it is now required every two years).

Google will investigate complaints made by its contractors against employees and require that suppliers investigate complaints against contractors, the company said. "It's clear we need to make some changes", Pichai noted.

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

Notably, Google also said that "going forward, all leaders at the company-Directors, VPs and SVPs-will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged". Those who fall behind in their training, including top executives, will be dinged in annual performance reviews, leaving a blemish that could lower their pay and make it more hard to get promoted.

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The changes didn't go far enough to satisfy Vicki Tardif Holland, a Google employee who helped organize and spoke at the protests near the company's Cambridge, Massachusetts, office last week.

Demma Rodriguez, head of equity engineering and a seven-year Google employee, said during the walkout that it was an important part of bringing fairness to the technology colossus. 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.

"While Sundar's message was encouraging, important points around discrimination, inequity and representation were not addressed", Holland wrote in an email responding to an AP inquiry. "I would expect to see other professionals taking action when they see something wrong".

"Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse", Google said in a released action statement.

The protest came a week after a New York Times story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin. Google reportedly found the allegation to be credible.

Rubin derided the Times story article as inaccurate and denied the allegations in a tweet. Women account for 31 percent of Google's employees worldwide, and it's lower for leadership roles.

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