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Google updates sexual harassment policies following protest

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.

Google walkout organizers aren’t satisfied with CEO’s response

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.