Following an international protest over the mishandling of sexual harassment and misconduct at Google, the company announced that it was updating its policies to better reflect the demands of protesters.
Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, wrote in an email to employees that they recognise that the company “have not always gotten everything right in the past”, that they would like to sincerely apologise for that, and that it is clear some changes need to be made.
“Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns,” wrote Pichai in the same email. “We’ll give better support and care to the people who raise them. And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace.”
Google released a detailed action plan on the policy changes, some of which include:
- optional arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims
- a new section in its Investigations Report focused on sexual harassment to show the number of substantiated or partially substantiated concerns over time
- publicly sharing their policy on Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation, Standards of Conduct & Workplace Concerns
- committing to implementing & publishing an internal Investigations Practice Guide
In addition to this, Google has rededicated itself to better care for and support people who raise concerns. Walkout organizers said in a statement that Google had “made progress” in meeting their demands, but that nothing had been said yet about an employee representative or elevating the chief diversity officer’s rank.
Some of the organisers’ demands were met directly, such as the case for an end to forced arbitration and a publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report. Not having an employee representative or elevating the chief diversity officer’s rank is detrimental to the effort made though, because the employee representative and chief diversity officer are supposed to aid in allocating permanent resources to these demands, as well as ensuring accountability and proposing changes when equity goals are not met.
The walkouts were originally prompted by a New York Times article detailing the ways Google protected executives accused of harassment and misconduct, like quietly asking for a resignation and paying them an exit package worth $90 million.