Need to Change Harassment Policy: Google Bows to Employee Pressure

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

CEO Sundar Pichai, on Thursday, outlined changes to how the internet giant handles sexual harassment complaints, hoping to calm outrage that triggered a worldwide walkout of Google workers last week.

"We recognise that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that," Pichai said in an email message to employees, a copy of which was shared with AFP.

"“It’s clear we need to make some changes.”" - Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

Pichai promised that Google will be more transparent with how concerns are handled, and provide better support and care to those who raise such issues with the company.

Google will provide "more granularity," regarding sexual harassment investigations and their outcomes, according to Pichai.

He also said Google is consolidating the complaint system and that the process for handling concerns will include providing support people and counselors.

Also Read: Google Employees Stage Walkout to Protest Workplace Harassment

Google will update its mandatory sexual harassment training, and make arbitration of claims optional instead of obligatory, according to Pichai.

"This is an area where we need to continually make progress and are committed to doing so." -

Last week, the tech giant's workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest what they consider management's lax treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct. The protest's organisers estimated that about 20,000 workers participated in 50 cities around the world.

The turnout in California was the final stage of a global walkout that began in Asia and spread to Google offices in Europe.

Also Read: How Google’s Employee Walkout Will Strengthen Company’s Reputation

The protest took shape after Google said it had fired 48 employees in the past two years – including 13 senior executives – as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Google has bowed to one of the protesters' main demands by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases. That will now be optional, so workers can choose to sue in court and present their case in front of a jury.

Demands posted by organisers included an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees, along with a right for every Google worker to bring a co-worker, representative, or supporter when filing a harassment claim.

(With inputs from AP and PTI)

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