Google’s women claimed headlines last week after it emerged that hundreds of employees across various global offices belonging to the firm were walking out in protest – specifically in the name of greater equality in company policies and how the firm currently handles sexual assault and harassment allegations. Following major press on the walkouts, Google’s CEO has advised that changes will be made shortly to a number of company policies, according to Sky News.
The news comes as CEO Sundar Pichai sent an open letter to employees across the company which attempted to redress some of the complaints made against Google’s handling of assault and harassment claims. One of the key takeaways from Pichai’s letter includes that of a focus on alcohol – as it emerges that Google will seek to be more punitive on alcohol consumed by staff. Pichai claims, in said letter, that alcohol had appeared to be a common factor in allegations made.
“Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse,” writes Pichai. “But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking.”
Thus, it seems a ‘drink’ limit will be brought in – but other criticisms have also been addressed. “Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration may still be the best path for a number of reasons,” Pichai writes, “(…) but, we recognize that choice should be up to you.” This admission comes as the firm moves to make arbitration during such claims to become purely optional. Further to this, it was confirmed that staff investigated over such claims will face additional penalties if they do not adhere to sexual harassment training.
The Walkout For Real Change occurred at offices in Zurich, Singapore, London, Dublin, Tokyo and Berlin on November 1st, in light of a number of concerns having been raised over high-profile sexual misconduct hearings. Such concerns included allegations over Android creator Andy Rubin having supposedly received a payout of $90 million in severance despite Google having acknowledged there having been credible complaints made with regard to sexual misconduct. Rubin, on social media, claimed such reports to contain ‘wild exaggerations’.
The news that Google is set to make changes will likely be taken as a win for protestors, however, it will remain to be seen whether or not any further changes are implemented.