Google has announced new policy changes to address employee concerns about misconduct and harassment, following a series of massive protests. These changes were announced in an email, sent out by Google’s global director of diversity, equity, and inclusion Melonie Park to Googlers. Later yesterday, a blog post was published publicly introducing the new policy updates.
“We want every Googler to walk into a workplace filled with dignity and respect,” Melonie Parker, wrote in the email.
Google’s misconduct-related policy updates
First, the company is building a new dedicated website to help employees bring up issues on misconduct and harassment in a simpler and clearer way. They will also be providing a similar site for temp and vendor workers, which is scheduled to go live by June.
They have also internally published their fifth annual Investigations Report, a summary of employee-related misconduct investigations. They have also shared (internally) a new Investigations Practice Guide outlining how concerns are handled within Employee Relations to explain what employees can expect during the investigations process. What is shared publicly is Google’s workplace policies on harassment, discrimination, retaliation, standards of conduct, and workplace conduct.
Google is also expanding its Support Person Program where Googlers can bring a trusted colleague during their harassment and discrimination investigations. They have also rolled a new Investigations Care Program to provide better care to Googlers during and after an investigation.
Google’s workplace issues since the past year
In November last year, 20,000 Google employees along with Temps, Vendors, and Contractors walked out to protest the discrimination, racism, and sexual harassment that they encountered at Google’s workplace. The Walkout was planned after The New York Times brought to light the shocking allegations against Andy Rubin’s (creator of Android) sexual misconduct at Google.
In the six months since the walkout, Google’s workplace issues have steadily continued. Just last week, two Google Walkout organizers accused the company of retaliation against them over the protest. The two Google employees, Claire Stapleton, YouTube Marketing Manager and Meredith Whittaker the head of Google’s Open Research were told their roles would change dramatically including calls to abandon AI ethics work, demotion, and more.
Yesterday, an unidentified individual filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing Google of violating federal law by retaliating against an employee. The case involves an alleged violation of a New Deal-era ban on punishing employees for involvement in collective action related to working conditions, according to Bloomberg.
Google has previously partially acknowledged only one demand from the walkout organizers’ original demands: ending forced arbitration for all its full-time employees but not for Google’s temporary and contract workers. It has also lifted the ban on class action lawsuits for the employees.
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]The complete demands laid out by the Google employees are as follows:
-An end to Forced Arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees. A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
-A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
-A clear, uniform, and globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
-Elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the Board of Directors. Appoint an Employee Rep to the Board.[/box]
Yet, the fight is not over for Walkout organizers. Two of their original demands for putting an employee representative on the company’s board of directors and having the chief diversity officer report directly to the CEO has received no response from Google. Currently, Melonie Parker reports to VP of people operations Eileen Naughton instead of CEO Sundar Pichai. There were some scathing comments about Eileen by an x-googler who quit earlier this year on ethical grounds.
Eileen Naughton (head of Google HR) should resign.
So many bad things have happened on her watch, and she seems completely ineffective at doing anything but shielding the company and shielding harassers. https://t.co/hSLDwwIFqw
— Colin McMillen (@mcmillen) April 25, 2019
Whatever progress was made was due to Danielle Brown, but she was hampered (IMHO) by reporting to Eileen, who's a corporate shill through-and-through.
This is along the reasons why "Danielle should report directly to the CEO" was a Walkout demand.
Danielle's gone now.
— Colin McMillen (@mcmillen) April 25, 2019
People also raised questions about how Google is going to make up for their misconduct towards its ex-employees?
What about ex-employees Google discriminated and retaliated against last year? How exactly is Google going to make up for their misconduct towards these employees? I am one of them, Constructively Discharged in November 2018!
— Vida Vakilotojar (@VidaVakil) April 26, 2019
Techworkersco also added, “What we see here is Google management scrambling to placate workers in the face of serious claims that the company retaliates.”