SAN FRANCISCO – Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after thousands of high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.
Google bowed to one of the protesters' main demands by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases. That will now be optional, so workers can choose to sue in court and present their case in front of a jury. It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after complaints from its female employees prompted an internal investigation. The probe concluded that its ranks had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment.
“Google's leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you've shared,” CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to Google employees. “We recognize 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.” Thursday's email was obtained by The Associated Press.
Last week, the tech giant's workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest what they consider management's lax treatment of top executives and other workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct.
The reforms are the latest fallout from a broader societal backlash against men's exploitation of their female subordinates – a movement that has spawned the “MeToo” hashtag as a sign of unity and a call for change.
Google will provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees. The breakdowns will include the number of cases that were substantiated within various company departments and list the types of punishment imposed.