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Google to Change Sexual Harassment Policy 1 Week After Protests

  • Sexual harassment policy is changing at Google a week after 20,000 workers protested.

    Sexual harassment policy is changing at Google a week after 20,000 workers protested. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 November 2018

More than 20,000 Google employees around the world staged demonstrations last week in a "Walkout for Real Change."

Google announced a change in how sexual harassment claims are handled in the company Thursday.

The move comes one week after 20,000 Google employees around the globe walked out in a collective action to protest how the company handles such cases.

Google Workers Worldwide Walk Out to Protest Sexual Harassment

Protests erupted after a New York Times article revealed that the company gave a US$90 million severance package to a top executive in 2014 after being accused of sexual harassment.

"We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that," Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said in a note.

Google has agreed to make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, which means lawsuits will now be enabled on those matters.

Mandatory sexual harassment training will now be annually conducted and any employee who fails to complete the training will be docked in performance reviews.

These changes acknowledge some of the five major requests made by employees during last week's protests.

Workers had called to add an employee representative to the executive board and for the company to share gender-related pay data, neither of which have been addressed.

In a press release, the Google Walkout organizers voiced their discontent with the company's response which they say "troublingly erased those focused on racism, discrimination, and the structural inequity built into the modern day Jim Crow class system that separates ‘full time’ employees from contract workers."

Contract workers, who don’t receive the same benefits as other employees, make up about half of Google’s staff and are by-and-large people of color, immigrants, and people with a working-class background.

While organizers applauded the progress on sexual harassment, they said they will not let up on other issues they’d outlined in their demands.

"{The issues} all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top,” organizer and Google employee Stephanie Parker said in a press release. "We demand a truly equitable culture."

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