Organizers of the massive walkouts at Google last week are — rightfully so — not letting up on their demands. Earlier this morning, Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded to some of their demands, outlining how Google is getting rid of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, offering more transparency around those investigations and more. While Google did make some changes, the company did not address all of the organizers demands. For example, Google failed to elevate its chief diversity officer to report directly to Pichai and also ignored the organizers request to add an employee representative to the board of directors. In the Medium post today, the organizers commended Googles process while also noting how Pichais response did not address many of the core demands. In the post, they write: 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. Contract workers make up more than half of Googles workforce, and perform essential roles across the company, but receive few of the benefits associated with tech company employment. They are also largely people of color, immigrants, and people from working class backgrounds. The process by which we build a truly equitable culture must center the voices of black women, immigrants, and people of color — those who too often pay the most in the face of these intersecting problems, Google employee and walkout organizer Demma Rodriguez said in the Medium post. We are committed to making this happen, because true equity depends on it. The worldwide walkout of 20,000 Google employees and contractors came in response to a damning New York Times report regarding Googles handling of sexual harassment investigations. Moving forward, the organizers say they 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 and looks forward to meeting with Google leadership in working to meet all of our demands. Ive reached out to Google and will update this story if I hear back.
CEO touts new policies, allows colleagues to accompany one another during HR complaints. Just a week after thousands of Google employees worldwide protested the companys inadequate response to sexual harassment, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company would agree to the first of the organizers demands: ending mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases. Pichai released a public memo in which he said that arbitration, a quasi-legal private dispute resolution process that often favors corporations over individuals, would now be "optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims." "Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognize that choice should be up to you," he wrote. 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." Protestors also asked for four other changes, which appear to not have been implemented yet: In December 2017, Microsoft announced that it would end forced arbitration, but few if any other major tech firms have followed suit. Meredith Whittaker, one of the Google protest's organizers, acknowledged this protest victory on Twitter today: Collective action works. It will continue working.