May 20, 2019

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Google Overhauls Sexual Misconduct Policy After Employee Walkout

Google Overhauls Sexual Misconduct Policy After Employee Walkout
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“These forms of marginalization function together to police access to power and resources,” the group said in a statement. “Sexual harassment is the symptom, not the cause. If we want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we must fix these structural imbalances of power.”

At a companywide meeting on Thursday, Eileen Naughton, Google’s vice president of people operations, and Danielle Brown, its chief diversity officer, presented the changes announced by Mr. Pichai, said two people who attended and who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Then Ms. Naughton and Ms. Brown, along with Susan Wojcicki, chief executive of Google’s YouTube, and Ruth Porat, Google’s chief financial officer, answered questions from employees, the people said. Mr. Pichai attended, but not Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who sometimes appear at staff meetings.

The meeting lasted over an hour, the people said. Some workers asked why contractors did not get the same protection from harassment as full-time employees. In an answer to another question about how to change Google’s executive culture, Urs Hölzle, a senior vice president and one of the earliest employees, urged staff members to view executives as individuals and not as one group, the people said.

Another employee said Mr. Pichai also seemed dismissive of the idea of an employee representative on the board. Mr. Pichai said that was a decision for the board to make, the person said.

Google declined to comment on the meeting details.

After The Times reported on how Google had generously treated executives accused of sexual misconduct, Mr. Pichai and Mr. Page apologized to employees. Mr. Pichai also said that Google had fired 48 people over two years in response to claims of harassment and that none had received an exit package.

But their statements did little to quell growing employee anger. Many workers expressed their unhappiness on internal message boards and in meetings, as well as on Twitter and other social media. Some began to organize a walkout.

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