Google changes sex harassment policies after worker protests

Google walkout

On Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai - who was publicly supportive of the walkout, likely because reacting any other way would be a awful PR look for an already tarnished organization - announced that the company has updated its sexual harassment policies.

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.

Google will also provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees.

Following mass outrage, Google chief Sundar Pichai told of how he would turn the company around, and promised to "better support" those who brought cases against fellow workers and executives. "And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace".

The reckoning wrought by #MeToo has left Silicon Valley exposed, revealing patterns of abuse and inequality beneath a veneer of progress.

The last couple of weeks haven't been great ones for Google.

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

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The walkout, which took place on November 1, saw approximately 20,000 employees leave their Google offices around the globe at 11:10 a.m. local time. Throughout the protests several female employees shared their stories while working at Google, claiming that their allegations had largely fell on deaf ears. "Sadly, the executive team has demonstrated through their lack of meaningful action that our safety is not a priority". The company also said it would publicly release its harassment, discrimination and retaliation policies.

The protest came a week after a New York Times story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin. The report further added that Google in the past also had protected many of its employees who were accused of sexual misconduct by other employees.

Employees now must do sexual harassment training annually, instead of every two years.

The policy says that that leaders who do not take steps to limit drinking at events will be on the hook, citing a statistic that says in 20% of Google's reported sexual harassment cases, alcohol played a role.

"We recognise 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", Pichai noted. Meredith Whittaker, one organizer of the protest and co-director of the AI Now Institute, congratulated everyone with a tweet.

Sabrina Geremia says she feels the walkout, which included workers in Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo, is a "difficult episode", but that she hopes it will become a "watermark" for the industry.

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