Google changes sex harassment policies after worker protests

Google changes sex harassment policies after worker protests

Optional arbitration for claims on sexual harassment and sexual assault.

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".

In the email, Pichai says that he takes the role of CEO seriously and that, going forward, Google will "provide more transparency on how we handle concerns".

It followed a series of revelations about sexual harassment and misconduct at the company, including a $90m payout to Android inventor Andy Rubin after he had left Google, despite what the firm considered a credible claim of sexual misconduct against him - a claim he denies. 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.

Google said employees will now be required to undergo sexual harassment training annually, instead of the current every two years.

Google leadership also held a town-hall style meeting with employees following the publication of Pichai's memo on Thursday, the CNBC reported.

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"Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse", Mr Pichai wrote.

Organizers say they intend to meet with Google execs in pursuit of getting all - not just some - of their demands met. Now, Google, one of the world's most powerful and visible companies, could become a model for how to fix what's broken in tech culture - if it delivers on its promises.

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.

The Google protest organizers last week demanded an end to forced arbitration, a single system for anonymously reporting harassment and a promise that the chief diversity officer would report directly to the CEO.

"We will impose more onerous actions if problems persist", Google said.

While the policy changes Pichai outlined met numerous protesters' requirements, they do not include adding an employee representative to Alphabet's board or elevating the chief diversity officer to report directly to the CEO, it said. It will offer extended counseling, support for accommodations and leaves, and it will put together a team of advisors on the Employee Relations team focused on sexual harassment and discrimination claims. A New York Times report spurred the protests after it revealed that Google gave a $90-million exit package to a top executive in 2014 after he was accused of sexual harassment.

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