Google Employee Protest Was Rejection of 'Individualism'

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

Speaking at a lunch hosted by the Canadian Club in Toronto, Geremia says Google has taken a much harder line on inappropriate behaviour, especially in the last two years, and that no one is more keen to solve issues around misconduct than its chief executive officer Sundar Pichai.

"Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognise that choice should be up to you", Mr Pichai wrote.

He also pledged to provide more detail around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes at the company as part of Google's Investigations Report.

Moving forward, Pichai said Google will be more transparent about how they handle concerns and be more supportive of those who raise them.

It followed a series of revelations about sexual harassment and misconduct at the company, including a $90m payout to Android inventor Andy Rubin after he had left Google, despite what the firm considered a credible claim of sexual misconduct against him - a claim he denies.

Google will investigate complaints made by its contractors against employees and require that suppliers investigate complaints against contractors, the company said.

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Also of interest is Google's stance on alcohol.

Noting that in 20 per cent of harassment reports, the perpetrator had been drinking alcohol, the company says it expects corporate leaders - directors, VPs, and SVPs - to take steps to limit excessive drinking during company-related activities. The company will also provide more support to employees who report, including counseling and allowing them to bring a companion with them during HR investigations.

"We demand a truly equitable culture, and Google leadership can achieve this by putting employee representation on the board and giving full rights and protections to contract workers", organiser Stephanie Parker said in the statement.

Mandatory sexual harassment training will also be updated and expanded with those not completing training receiving a docking of their performance rating.

Protest organizers said Google publicly champions diversity and inclusion but doesn't do enough to put words into action.

Some of the new policies were items that the protesting workers had called for, like ending forced arbitration for employees who want to sue over harassment claims. Throughout the protests several female employees shared their stories while working at Google, claiming that their allegations had largely fell on deaf ears.

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