A week after 20,000 employees protested against Google for reasons of sexual misconduct and inequality, the company announced Thursday that it would commit to creating a safer workplace including ending forced arbitration and increasing the transparency of reported incidents.
In one Sundar Pichai, general manager of Google, said it was clear that the company needed to make changes to protect its workers. The e-mail describes a series of changes, many of which respond to requests from organizers of the walkouts last week.
"In the future, we will provide more transparency about how you express your concerns and how we treat them," wrote Pichai in his e-mail. "We will provide better care and support to those who express their concerns. And we will double our commitment to being a representative, fair and respectful workplace. "
The math done by #MeToo left Silicon Valley exposed, revealing patterns of abuse and inequality under the nail of progress. Now, Google, one of the most powerful and visible companies in the world, could become a model for addressing what has been broken in the technological culture – if it keeps its promises.
"We have the eyes of many companies watching us," said Tanuja Gupta, one of the walkout organizers in New York last week. "We have always been an avant-garde company, so if we do not lead the way, no one else will."
When workers from 50 Google offices around the world left work last Thursday, they said they were protesting against a "culture of complicity, disdain, and support from authors." The New York Times reported last month that Google had removed charges of sexual misconduct against several of its leaders and reportedly paid $ 90 million to one of its executives when it reportedly left the company after an investigation into sexual misconduct deemed credible.
"All employees and contractors of the company deserve to be safe," they wrote in an essay published on The Cut last week. "Unfortunately, the management team has demonstrated, through its lack of meaningful action, that our safety is not a priority."
The walkouts had five stated objectives, including stopping forced arbitrations in cases of harassment and discrimination, pay equity and opportunities, a "publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report" and improved processes. to report cases of sexual misconduct.
Overall, the new policies are a direct response to these demands. According to the e-mail, arbitration of harassment or assault complaints will now be optional, and the company will track and publish information about reported misconduct incidents and how they are handled. The company also promised to reorganize its reporting process "to ensure that claims are handled with empathy and care and that people who voice their concerns are heard."
The e-mail also describes other changes aimed at improving the company culture, such as mandatory annual training on sexual harassment (previously, such training was held every two years) and the creation of A "team of specialized advisers" to investigate issues of harassment or discrimination. Google executives will also take action to discourage excessive drinking at business events due to the prevalence of alcohol in sexual misconduct cases.
"We recognize that we have not always corrected everything in the past and we are sincerely sorry," wrote Pichai in his email. "This is an area in which we need to make continuous progress and we are determined to do so."
Pichai met with company executives on Monday to respond to requests, according to a Medium press release, and employees were notified of the changes on Thursday afternoon.
Meredith Whittaker, another walkout organizer and co-director of the AI Now Institute, applauded her colleagues with a tweet.
"Collective action works," tweeted Whittaker. "He will continue to work."