Friday, November 9, 2018
Google Has New Sexual Harassment Policies Following Employee Walkout, Including Ending Forced Arbitration
Google said it would end its requirement for employee sexual-harassment claims to be handled in private arbitration, a move that comes one week after thousands of workers walked out of the company’s offices around the world to protest its handling of workplace issues.
In a memo on Thursday, Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff that Google will also include greater detail on sexual-harassment claims in regular reports and provide more services to employees who raise concerns, including counseling and career support.
The policy change for harassment claims is a victory for the organizers of the world-wide walkout, in which employees huddled outside of Google offices from Singapore to San Francisco chanting “Time’s Up!” and holding signs that read “Worker’s rights are women’s rights.”
The protest organizers published a letter with five demands, including an end to forced arbitration, a system that encourages HR staff to treat victims of harassment fairly and greater transparency around the reports on harassment claims. In its steps announced Thursday, Google didn’t address two of the demands: that the company commit to end pay inequity for women and minorities; and that the company’s chief diversity officer report directly to the CEO.
In a separate statement, Google outlined its commitments and actions policies in detail. Most significantly, the company will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims (according to the note, it has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process). It will make its policies on harassment, discrimination, retaliation, standards of conduct and workplace concerns more public to workers. It will also create an investigations practice guide and publish it internally so employees understand how the company handles concerns. The policies only apply to full-time employees, however.