Google bends to protestors' demands after sexual harassment 'walkout'

Eileen GuzmanNov 10, 2018

Facebook did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment.

The changes didn't go far enough to satisfy Vicki Tardif Holland, a Google employee who helped organize and spoke at the protests near the company's Cambridge, Massachusetts, office last week.

"But the issues that contributed to the walkout at Google - the company's controversial work with the Pentagon on artificial intelligence, its apparent willingness to build a censored search engine for China, and above all its handling of sexual harassment accusations against senior managers - proved too large for any one worker to confront alone, even if that worker made mid-six figures", he continued.

Since the breakout of the #MeToo campaign that spread across the whole world, people have become more vocal about sexual harassment and assaults in different workplaces.

Some teams had imposed "two-drink limits", he said, while others had introduced a ticketing system to stop alcohol flowing freely. Throughout the protests several female employees shared their stories while working at Google, claiming that their allegations had largely fell on deaf ears.

A section of an internal "Investigations Report" will focus on sexual harassment to show numbers of substantiated concerns as well as trends and disciplinary actions, according to the California-based company.

Google has not been available in China for almost a decade after the company publicly withdrew from the country in protest at censorship and alleged government hacking.

"I'm here protesting against harassment in the workplace to make sure we don't protect or support those perpetrators of harassment", one protester told Sky News.

Those who do report cases will also be better cared for, Mr Pichai promised, with time off granted as well as long-term counselling paid for by the company. Women account for 31 per cent of Google's employees worldwide, and it's lower for leadership roles.

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.

Demma Rodriguez, head of equity engineering and a seven-year Google employee, said during the walkout that it was an important part of bringing fairness to the technology colossus. And there's something grossly infantilizing about the section of the announcement devoted to reminding Google employees that "the onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams".

In a statement, organisers commended Google for the response, but said more changes are needed.

"Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns", he wrote. It does not, as the organizers asked, create a position for a worker representative on the Board of Directors.

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