Sundar Pichai is ending Google’s once famous partying culture by limiting drinking at work and threatening ‘more onerous actions’

  • As part of Google’s new policies to deal with sexual-harassment complaints at the company, CEO Sundar Pichai disclosed new rules for drinking at work.
  • Google says it will hold managers responsible for discouraging excessive drinking, not just in the office, but at any party or event where employees get together.
  • Pichai says that alcohol was frequently cited in incidents of reported sexual harassment and that, if things don’t change, he may implement “more onerous actions.”

In response to a recent employee walkout protesting how Google has handled sexual-harassment cases, CEO Sundar Pichai released new policies for employees on Thursday.

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. But Google also included a new measure in its new list of policies that may catch some employees by surprise: a crackdown on alcohol at work and after-hours at all work-related functions.

The policy says that leaders who do not take steps to limit drinking at events will be on the hook, citing a statistic that says in 20% of Google’s reported sexual-harassment cases, alcohol played a role.

Read more:

One of Google’s new sexual harassment policies could be the key to changing all of Silicon Valley’s bro culture

The policy also warns that Google “will impose more onerous actions if problems persist.” We take that to mean that Pichai may attempt to ban alcohol altogether.

Silicon Valley has a drinking culture, and Google is at least partially the reason why. In its early years, Google was a wild, childlike place to work, filled with people in their 20s. It was deliberately trying not to be your father’s and mother’s stuffy kind of corporation. The company would throw wild parties with lots of alcohol and other substances, early employees have described.

But the seeds of that corporate culture have grown into a tree. And it may be time to prune it.

Here is the alcohol policy Google disclosed on Thursday:

Excessive alcohol: Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse. But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking (~20% of cases). Our policy is clear: Excessive consumption of alcohol is not permitted when you are at work, performing Google business, or attending a Google-related event, whether onsite or offsite.

Going forward, all leaders at the company – Directors, VPs and SVPs – will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged. For example, many teams have already put two-drink limits in place for events. Others use drink ticket systems. The onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams, and we will impose more onerous actions if problems persist.