What just happened? Last week's massive employee walkout has prompted Google to revise how it handles all aspects of sexual harassment, from assault claims and reporting to support and training. Will it be enough to quell concerns?
Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday e-mailed employees regarding changes being made in response to last week’s 20,000-person walkout in regard to the company’s poor handling of sexual harassment allegations.
In the letter, shared publicly on Google’s blog, Pichai said Google recognizes it has not always gotten everything right in the past and for that, they are sincerely sorry. “It’s clear we need to make some changes,” Pichai noted.
Moving forward, Pichai said Google will be more transparent about how they handle concerns and be more supportive of those who raise them.
To help further the initiative, Google also announced a comprehensive action plan that outlines changes being made at the company including making arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, being more granular with sexual harassment investigations and outcomes, improving reporting channels and updating and expanding mandatory sexual harassment training.
With regard to training, Google says that starting next year, all employees will be required to complete sexual harassment training annually (it is currently required every two years). Those who don’t comply will be docked one rating in the year-end Perf (Google’s performance review system).
Also of interest is Google’s stance on alcohol. The action plan notes that harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse but is one of the most common factors among harassment complaints (in around 20 percent of cases). Google states that “excessive consumption of alcohol is not permitted when you are at work, performing Google business, or attending a Google-related event, whether onsite or offsite.”
It will be up to team leaders to take steps to curb excessive drinking among their teams, Google said, noting that further actions will be taken if problems persist.