Google is announcing new policies around sexual harassment and diversity, following a worldwide employee protest last week. The new policies reflect demands from the protestors, who met with Google leadership earlier this week. We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. Its clear we need to make some changes, wrote CEO Sundar Pichai in an email to employees, which he posted publicly today. The organizers of the walkout, however, say that Google ignored several of the core demands theyd put forward. Pichai wrote that Google will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns. Well 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. He included a summary of the new policies; Google also released a file with more details about the policies, which meet some but not all of the original demands. Got a tip for us? Use SecureDrop or Signal to securely send messages and files to The Verge without revealing your identity. One of Googles key changes is making arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, so employees could take misconduct claims to court instead of privately settling them. Pichai also promises to provide more granularity in internal reports about harassment at Google, offering details about how many cases have been substantiated, as well as trends, disciplinary actions taken, and specifics on what kind of behavior we do and do not terminate employees for. Google will update and expand its mandatory sexual harassment training, and it will start docking the performance review scores of employees who dont complete the training. Pichai also promises to improve the system for reporting sexual harassment and assault. It will create a dedicated reporting site with live support, offer counseling to people who report assault or harassment, and allow Google employees to bring another person to support them when they meet to discuss their complaints. These changes will be implemented between now and the first quarter of 2019. Sundar Pichai November Sexual Harassment and Assault Policy Changes by Adi Robertson on ScribdSome of these changes, like optional arbitration and a support person at meetings, seem to be specific responses to organizers demands. Others dont directly match the demands, but theyre attempts at reaching the same broad goals. The granularity, for instance, could potentially address requests for a publicly disclosed transparency report — although it seems like a much smaller commitment. Google only alluded to some of the other demands. The organizers, for instance, asked Google to elevate the role of its chief diversity officer and release internal reports about payment or achievement gaps between races, ethnicities, and genders. Pichai offered a more general promise to recommit to diversity, equality, and inclusion practices that are focused on improving representation — through hiring, progression and retention— and creating a more inclusive culture for everyone. Theres no mention of some of the biggest asks, like putting an employee representative on the board of directors. While this wasnt one of the requests, Google says that going forward, all leaders at the company ... will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged, since it says that in around 20 percent of sexual harassment complaints, the perpetrator had been drinking. In a statement, the walkout organizers said Google had made progress in meeting their demands. However, they noted that Pichai hadnt said anything about an employee representative, and that Google isnt elevating the chief diversity officers rank. Moreover, it troublingly erased demands regarding racism, discrimination, and the modern day Jim Crow class system that separates full-fledged employees from the large pool of less privileged and protected contract workers. If we want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we must fix these structural imbalances of power, said the organizers in their statement. While were thrilled to see progress on sexual harassment, we will not let up on the demands most urgent for women of color: an employee representative on the board, elevating the chief diversity officer, greater transparency on and an end to opportunity inequity at Google and beyond. The walkouts were prompted by an explosive New York Times report that alleged Google had turned a blind eye to sexual assault and harassment among executives and that it had offered a massive $90 million severance package to Android co-founder Andy Rubin after he resigned over credible sexual assault allegations. Update 12:45PM ET: Added more detail from Googles policy document. Update 5:30PM ET: Added response from Google walkout organizers.
The company says its working to make necessary changes. Google has faced quite a bit of criticism and pushback regarding how it has handled sexual harassment accusations in the past, and thousands of employees walked out of their offices in protest last week. Now, ahead of a company town hall meeting, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has released new policies that will guide how the company handles such accusations going forward. " Over the past few weeks Google's leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you've shared," Pichai wrote. "We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It's clear we need to make some changes." First, Google will make arbitration optional for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, and its Investigations Report will now include a new section focused on sexual harassment. That report will include details on how many substantiated or partially substantiated concerns there were, disciplinary actions that were taken and what types of behavior lead to termination at the company. Google will also publicly share its policies on harassment, discrimination, retaliations, standards of conduct and workplace concerns. Further, Google says it will implement an Investigations Practice Guide that will outline how investigations will be handled and what employees can expect from the process. Employees will be able to help with the development of the guide and it will be updated regularly. Pichai also notes that the company will make an effort to provide more support to those who bring sexual harassment claims forward. 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. Further, employees will also be allowed to bring a companion with them when they report harassment concerns and as they move through the investigation process. Google will also take "a fresh look" at its reporting channels to ensure claims are handled with empathy and care. And all employees will be required to complete sexual harassment training each year (compared to every two years as the current policy mandates). "Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns. 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," said Pichai. Last week's walkout stemmed from a New York Times report that revealed though Google found a number of sexual harassment claims against high-level employees credible, those employees were given major sums of money as they departed the company. Andy Rubin, for example, was reportedly given $90 million on his way out. Organizers issued Google a list of demands last week aimed at improving the company's culture, a number of which were reflected in Pichai's post.