- Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo to employees Thursday that the company was getting rid of forced arbitration in cases of sexual misconduct.
- The announcement follows an en-masse employee walkoout earlier this month that saw nearly 20,000 workers protest Google’s past handling of sexual assault and harassment.
- You can view the memo in its entirety that Pichai sent to employees below.
Google said on Thursday it was ending forced arbitration for employees in cases of sexual assault and harassment, in the wake of large-scale protests over the company’s handling of such incidents in the past.
The change was announced in an email to employees from CEO Sundar Pichai, which was then published on Google’s website. The new policies are designed to “provide more transparency” in the investigation process, Pichai wrote.
“We will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims,” Pichai’s memo reads. “Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognise that choice should be up to you.”
Almost 20,000 Google employees participated in a staged walkout earlier this month after details of the company’s past sexual misconduct issues came to light. The New York Times reported in an explosive story that Google had provided a top executive accused of sexual misconduct with a $US90 million exit package when he left the company, and then Pichai revealed in a memo that 48 employees had been fired in the past two years for sexual harassment.
Just hours before Pichai’s memo was published Thursday, the Google CEO was quoted in a sit-down interview with the Times acknowledging that the company “clearly got some things wrong.”
Read Thursday’s memo in full below:
At Google we try hard to build a workplace that supports our employees and empowers them to do their best work. As CEO, I take this responsibility very seriously and I’m committed to making the changes we need to improve. Over the past few weeks Google’s leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you’ve shared.
We recognise that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes.
Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns. We’ll give better support and care to the people who raise them. And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace.
Today, we’re announcing a comprehensive action plan to make progress. It’s detailed here and I encourage everyone to read it. Here are some of the key changes:
We will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognise that choice should be up to you.
We will provide more granularity around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes at the company as part of our Investigations Report.
We’re revamping the way we handle and look into your concerns in three ways: We’re overhauling our reporting channels by bringing them together on one dedicated site and including live support. We will enhance the processes we use to handle concerns-including the ability for Googlers to be accompanied by a support person. And we will offer extra care and resources for Googlers during and after the process. This includes extended counseling and career support.
We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training. From now on if you don’t complete your training, you’ll receive a one-rating dock in Perf (editor’s note: Perf is our performance review system).
We will recommit to our company-wide OKR around diversity, equity and inclusion again in 2019, focused on improving representation-through hiring, progression and retention-and creating a more inclusive culture for everyone. Our Chief Diversity Officer will continue to provide monthly progress updates to me and my leadership team.
I hope you’ll take the time to read the full range of actions we’re announcing today.
Thank you all for the feedback you’ve shared with us. This is an area where we need to continually make progress and are committed to doing so. We often hear from Googlers that the best part of working here is other Googlers. Even in difficult times, we are encouraged by the commitment of our colleagues to create a better workplace. That’s come through very strongly over the past few weeks.