This time last week, Google employees held massive walkouts across the country to protest the companys handling of sexual harassment in the wake of a damning New York Times piece. This morning, CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees about the events that was also shared via the companys blog. We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that, the executive says in the letter. Its clear we need to make some changes. The memo follows another recent letter, in which Pichai noted the termination of 48 employees for sexual harassment over the past two years. Google walkout organizer: I hope I still have a career in Silicon Valley after thisThis latest letter also makes note of a private action plan. While not spelled out in its entirety, Pichai breaks down a handful of policy changes, including mandatory training for employees and the ways in which the company will handle sexual harassment claims going forward. Here are the bullet points: Of course, all of this only arrives in the wake of both a serious piece highlighting disturbing complaints about former employees, along with a very high-profile walkout on the part of Google employees. It never bodes well for a companys underlying culture when these sorts of actions are required to induce a fundamental change.
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.