Need to Change Harassment Policy: Google Bows to Employee Pressure

Google CEO announces new action plan following Andy Rubin fiasco

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in an interview that the company operates in lots of countries around the world where there is censorship and that when the search giant follows "right to be forgotten" laws, it is censoring search results in order to comply with local laws.

"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 also says it will provide "more granularity" around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes at the company as part of its "Investigations Report".

Pichai's memo says that while Google "never required confidentiality", employees with harassment or assault claims can now choose whether or not to go through the arbitration process.

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.

Demands posted by organisers included an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees, along with a right for every Google worker to bring a co-worker, representative, or supporter when filing a harassment claim.

Some 150 Google employees participated in the walkout in India.

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Google is also putting the onus on team leaders to tighten the tap on booze at company events, on or off campus, to curtail the potential for drunken misbehaviour. Google is also promising "extra care and resources" for Googlers with complaints, "during and after the process", such as extended counseling and career support.

"Last year, we published our harassment policy - https://peoplepractices.fb.com/harassment-policy/ - because we believe that the more companies are open about their policies, the more we can all learn from one another".

Google workers hold a protest.

Collective action works. It will continue working. They had also called on Alphabet to add an employee to its board and share gender-related pay data, neither of which Pichai addressed. "Perpetrators" had been drinking in about 20 percent of the harassment cases at Google, it said.

What Google failed to make public at the time was that an employee had accused Rubin of sexual misconduct.

"We will impose more onerous actions if problems persist", Google said. "However, the response ignored several of the core demands - like elevating the diversity officer and employee representation on the board - and troublingly erased those focused on racism, discrimination, and the structural inequity built into the modern day Jim Crow class system that separates "full time" employees from contract workers".

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