Responding to the walkout by its employees protesting about Google’s behavior towards past executives after they were accused of sexual harassment, the firm has said that it will end its policy of “forced arbitration” when staff is accused of sexual harassment. CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email to all his staff stating that now employees would be able to speak freely about instances of sexual harassment and arbitration would be optional. The management, however, did not respond to employees demands about having an employee representative on the board and to ensure that its chief diversity officer reports directly to chief executive.
The email by Mr. Pichai to his staff started with an apology on behalf of all its leaders that have been moved by the stories shared by its employees. They accepted that executive decisions have not always been right in the past and serious changes have to be made to keep employees happy and secure at their workplace. He assured greater transparency around sexual harassment cases along with mandatory training about acceptable workplace behavior and increased support to claims of the kind. The most impactful decision is to abstain from the practice of “forced arbitration” which has been a highly criticized practice as then employees have to deal with the complaints internally.
Mr. Pichai affirmed that arbitration will be optional depending on individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. As Google has never insisted on confidentiality in arbitration processes the choice will entirely be up to concerned employees. But Tech Workers Coalition that backed the protest march by Google’s employees said that these measures are not very effective as the firm also has contractual employees, vendors and contractors that are not offered any protection in the new regulations. The firm has affirmed that in the past couple of years, it has fired 48 employees for sexual harassment issues of which 13 were senior level staff.