Google walkout organizers vow to 'not let up' following CEO's response

Google walkout organizers vow to 'not let up' following CEO's response

After a global walkout by over 20,000 employees last week, Google has apologised for the past handling of sexual harassment cases while promising to bring changes to make the company a safer workplace.

Pichai also said Google will provide more details around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes, as well as improving processes used to handle such concerns, including the ability for its employees to be accompanied by a support person.

Pichai's note - the announcement was circulated in a company-wide email - does not directly address those demands, but instead says the changes were inspired by "feedback" and "stories" Google received from its employees in recent weeks. That's happening externally, with increased scrutiny by regulators and politicians, and internally with reports and rising complaints about Google's permissive culture when it comes to executive conduct and relationships with co-workers.

Google will also be expanding its Investigations Report to include a count of "substantiated or partially substantiated" claims over time, as well as trends, disciplinary actions, and substantiation percentages.

The company later said that over the past two years, 48 other employees - including 13 considered to be senior staff - had been fired over sexual harassment issues.

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

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"But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking". Our policy is clear: 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.

"We will impose more onerous actions if problems persist", Google said. "We've always been a vanguard company, so if we don't lead the way, nobody else will".

The Google protest organizers last week demanded an end to forced arbitration, a single system for anonymously reporting harassment and a promise that the chief diversity officer would report directly to the CEO. The coordinated effort followed reports that Google paid Android creator Andy Rubin $90 million after it had determined that allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him were credible.

Along with sexual harassment, Google needs to address racism and discrimination that includes inequity in pay and promotions, organisers said.

While the policy changes Pichai outlined met numerous protesters' requirements, they do not include adding an employee representative to Alphabet's board or elevating the chief diversity officer to report directly to the CEO, it said.

Several steps will be taken to provide better care for those seeking to make claims, including extended counselling and support for accommodations and company leave.

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