After employee protest, Google unveils steps to tackle workplace harassment

Watch Google employees stage global protests

Watch Google employees stage global protests

Google is revamping its sexual harassment policies, according to a memo sent to employees on Thursday by Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Will it be enough to quell concerns?

The tech boss said it had become clear that to live up to the "high bar" set for Google, changes must be made.

Mr. Pichai said on Thursday that Google would provide more details about the outcome of sexual harassment investigations, as well as improve the handling of cases by allowing victims to be accompanied by a support person.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in an interview that the company operates in lots of countries around the world where there is censorship and that when the search giant follows "right to be forgotten" laws, it is censoring search results in order to comply with local laws. Those who don't comply will be docked one rating in the year-end Perf (Google's performance review system). But Google also included a new measure in its new list of policies that may catch some employees by surprise: a crack down on alcohol at work and after hours, at all work-related functions.

It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after complaints from its women employees prompted an internal investigation concluding its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment.

"They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top", organizer and Google employee Stephanie Parker said in a press release. Instead, Google noted that its chief diversity officer provides recommendations to the board through the company's Leadership Development and Compensation Committee. It will offer extended counseling, support for accommodations and leaves, and it will put together a team of advisors on the Employee Relations team focused on sexual harassment and discrimination claims. Employee-gathered data suggests the company pays men more than women; Google takes issue with those figures and argues women at the company make 99.7 cents for every dollar men make.

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The walkout organizers say that they're frustrated by Pichai's failure to address key elements of their complaint - for example, widespread pay discrimination.

An estimated 20,000 Google employees and contractors took part in the protests across 50 cities worldwide on 1 November.

Google got caught in the crosshairs two weeks ago after The New York Times detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the creator of Google's Android software, Andy Rubin.

Google is also putting the onus on team leaders to tighten the tap on booze at company events, on or off campus, to curtail the potential for drunken misbehaviour.

"We have the eyes of many companies looking at us", said Tanuja Gupta, one of the walkout's organizers in NY last week.

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