Google still has a long way to go

The Irish Times - - Business News -

Was it only last week that Google em­ploy­ees marched out of their of­fices en masse in protest at the com­pany’s han­dling of sex­ual ha­rass­ment claims? A grass­roots protest last Thurs­day saw 20,000 staff mem­bers in of­fices from Sil­i­con Val­ley to Dublin to Sin­ga­pore make their feel­ings clear about Google’s de­ci­sion to pay An­droid cre­ator Andy Ru­bin a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar set­tle­ment to leave the firm de­spite the fact there were al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct against him. It seems like much longer.

The protest was de­signed to draw at­ten­tion to sev­eral de­mands from em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing an end to forced arbitration and more trans­parency about how claims of sex­ual mis­con­duct were han­dled. Google has de­cided that those de­mands are rea­son­able and worth tak­ing ac­tion on, with chief ex­ec­u­tive Sun­dar Pichai out­lin­ing the com­pany’s re­sponse.

A cynic might say that things have worked out nicely for Google. The com­pany has made some sen­si­ble changes to its poli­cies and come out of the whole de­ba­cle, while not smelling of roses, look­ing at the very least like a firm that is ac­tu­ally lis­ten­ing to its em­ploy­ees. A lit­tle bit of good press to off­set the re­cent rev­e­la­tions about ex­ec­u­tive pay­offs.

But not so fast. While Google has yielded to its staff on some of the de­mands, the or­gan­is­ers of the protest say it’s just the start. Google failed to ad­dress some of the de­mands, such as em­ployee rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the board, and hasn’t re­ally fo­cused too much on how it will tackle sys­temic racism and other dis­crim­i­na­tion. While Google looks like it is mak­ing progress, the truth is that the com­pany still has a long way to go be­fore it can con­sider its is­sues to be sorted. It has been a tough reck­on­ing for the tech in­dus­try and the gi­ants that dom­i­nate it. Google may need more than a stick­ing plas­ter ef­fort to pla­cate its em­ploy­ees.

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