Google rewrites sexual harassment policy after staff protests

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Will it be enough to quell concerns?

- Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after thousands of high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.

"We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that", said Pichai in an email send to employees that the company made public. "This is an area where we need to continually make progress and are committed to doing so".

The Alphabet Inc. unit is making arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.

Every year from now, workers will complete mandatory sexual harassment training.

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Google employees stage a walkout on November 1.

"Sundar ignored the demand for a worker to be represented on the board and [temps, vendors and contractors (TVCs)] continue to have no adequate protections from sexual harassment, who make up over half the Google workforce and are disproportionately women and people of colour". And there's something grossly infantilizing about the section of the announcement devoted to reminding Google employees that "the onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams".

Google leadership also held a town-hall style meeting with employees following the publication of Pichai's memo on Thursday, the CNBC reported. That's happening externally, with increased scrutiny by regulators and politicians, and internally with reports and rising complaints about Google's permissive culture when it comes to executive conduct and relationships with co-workers.

Employees who participated in the walkout were demanding an end to forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases, a commitment to end pay inequity, publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency reports and a clear policy for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously. But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking (~20% of cases).

Google described two-drink limits or drink ticket systems as potential solutions.

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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.

If bosses do not clamp down on drinking within their teams, "more onerous action will be imposed", the Google chief warned.

But the group said that, although it "commended" the process, some concerns had been ignored - such as their demand for a employee representative to be put on the board.

Google is facing backlash over its handling of sexual misconduct cases at the workplace which is why many of its employees, mostly women, across the globe staged a protest by walking out of their offices.

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