Google announces new sexual assault, harassment rules after mass protests

November 9, 2018

Photo: AFP

Google is announcing new policies around sexual harassment and diversity, after a worldwide employee protest last week.

The new policies reflect demands from the protesters, who met with Google leadership earlier this week. “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,” wrote CEO Sundar Pichai in an email to employees, which he posted publicly today.

The protest organisers, however, say that Google “ignored several of the core demands” they’d put forward, reported The Verge.

Pichai wrote that Google “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.” He included a summary of the new policies; Google also released a file with more details about the policies, which meet some but not all of the original demands.

Related: Google workers walk out in global protest against harassment

One of Google’s key changes is making arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, so employees could take misconduct claims to court instead of privately settling them. Pichai also promises to provide “more granularity” in internal reports about harassment at Google, offering details about how many cases have been substantiated, as well as “trends,” disciplinary actions taken, and specifics on what kind of behavior “we do and do not terminate employees for.”

Google will update and expand its mandatory sexual harassment training, and it will start docking the performance review scores of employees who don’t complete the training.

Pichai also promises to improve the system for reporting sexual harassment and assault. It will create a dedicated reporting site with live support, offer counseling to people who report assault or harassment, and allow Google employees to bring another person to support them when they meet to discuss their complaints. These changes will be implemented between now and the first quarter of 2019.