Google is making changes following last week's sexual harassment walkout

Google Ends Forced Arbitration After Protest Over Sex MisconductMore

Google on Thursday outlined changes to its handling of sexual misconduct complaints, hoping to calm outrage that triggered a worldwide walkout of workers last week.

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.

Promising more transparency on how it handles harassment allegations, Pichai said Google will double down on its commitment to be a "representative, equitable, and respectful workplace". "We will provide better care and support to people who raise concerns".

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

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"We have the eyes of many companies looking at us", said Tanuja Gupta, one of the walkout's organizers in NY last week.

"For new or vacated positions at the Director level or above, we'll commit to having a diverse slate of candidates on the interview short list", the company says, allowing itself an exception when filling highly specialized roles.

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.

"All employees and contract workers across the company deserve to be safe", they wrote in an essay published on the Cut last week. That will now be optional under the new policies. The company also promises to revamp its reporting process "to ensure claims are handled with empathy and care, and that individuals bringing forward concerns are heard".

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The company later said that over the past two years, 48 other employees - including 13 considered to be senior staff - had been fired over sexual harassment issues.

"We demand a truly equitable culture", organizer Stephanie Parker wrote in response to Pichai's November 8 email, "and Google leadership can achieve this by putting employee representation on the board and giving full rights and protections to contract workers, our most vulnerable workers, many of whom are Black and Brown women". "It's clear we need to make some changes", Pichai stated in his emailed memo.

But the Tech Workers Coalition, which backed last week's action, said the measures did not go almost far enough, particularly where it related to contractors who worked with the firm. "It will continue working".

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