Google out­lines steps to tackle work­place ha­rass­ment

The Korea Times - - WORLD - SAN FRAN­CISCO (AFP)

— 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.

“We rec­og­nize that we have not al­ways got­ten ev­ery­thing right in the past and we are sin­cerely sorry for that,” chief ex­ec­u­tive Sun­dar Pichai said in a mes­sage to em­ploy­ees, a copy of which was shared with AFP.

“It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

Arbitration of ha­rass­ment claims will be op­tional in­stead of oblig­a­tory, ac­cord­ing to Pichai, a move that could end anony­mous set­tle­ments that fail to iden­tify those ac­cused of ha­rass­ment.

“Google has never re­quired con­fi­den­tial­ity in the arbitration process and it still may be the best path for a num­ber of rea­sons (e.g. per­sonal pri­vacy, pre­dictabil­ity of process), but, we rec­og­nize that the choice should be up to you,” he said in the memo.

Pichai promised that Google will be more trans­par­ent with how con­cerns are han­dled, and pro­vide bet­ter sup­port and care to those who raise such is­sues with the com­pany.

Google will pro­vide “more gran­u­lar­ity,” re­gard­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions and their out­comes, ac­cord­ing to Pichai.

A sec­tion of an in­ter­nal “In­ves­ti­ga­tions Re­port” will fo­cus on sex­ual ha­rass­ment to show num­bers of sub­stan­ti­ated con­cerns as well as trends and dis­ci­plinary ac­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia-based com­pany.

He also said Google is con­sol­i­dat­ing the com­plaint sys­tem and that the process for han­dling con­cerns will in­clude pro­vid­ing sup­port peo­ple and coun­selors.

Google will up­date its manda­tory sex­ual ha­rass­ment train­ing, and re­quire it an­nu­ally in­stead of ev­ery two years as had been the case.

Google is also putting the onus on team lead­ers to tighten the tap on booze at com­pany events, on or off cam­pus, to cur­tail the po­ten­tial for drunken mis­be­hav­ior.

“Ha­rass­ment is never ac­cept­able and al­co­hol is never an ex­cuse,” Google said in a re­leased ac­tion state­ment.

“But, one of the most com­mon fac­tors among the ha­rass­ment com­plaints made to­day at Google is that the per­pe­tra­tor had been drink­ing.”

Google pol­icy al­ready bans ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion of al­co­hol on the job; while on com­pany busi­ness, or at work-re­lated events.

Some teams at the com­pany have al­ready in­sti­tuted two-drink lim­its at events or use ticket sys­tems, Google said.

Google ex­ec­u­tives over­see­ing events will be ex­pected to strongly dis­cour­age ex­ces­sive drink­ing, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, which vowed “oner­ous ac­tions” if prob­lems per­sisted.

The com­pany also promised to “recom­mit” to im­prov­ing work­place di­ver­sity through hir­ing, re­ten­tion, and ca­reer ad­vance­ment.

Thou­sands of Google em­ploy­ees joined a co­or­di­nated world­wide walk­out a week ago to protest the U.S. tech gi­ant’s han­dling of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

A mas­sive turnout at the “Google­plex” in Sil­i­con Val­ley was the fi­nal stage of a global walk­out that be­gan in Asia and spread to Google of­fices in Eu­rope.

Some 20,000 Google em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors par­tic­i­pated in the protest in 50 ci­ties around the world, ac­cord­ing to or­ga­niz­ers.

AP-Yon­hap

Google CEO Sun­dar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O con­fer­ence in Moun­tain View, Calif., in this May 8 file photo. Google is promis­ing to be more force­ful and open about its han­dling of sex­ual mis­con­duct cases.

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