Google CEO Sundar Pichai outlines steps to tackle sexual harassment

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Following recent employee walkouts to protest Google’s handling of sexual harassment cases, its CEO Sundar Pichai has outlined several measures the company will put in place to tackle the issue.

In a new set of policies released for employees on Thursday (8), Pichai said there will be a crackdown on alcohol at work and after hours, and at all work-related functions.

Google said alcohol was never an excuse for harassment.

Here is the alcohol policy Google disclosed on Thursday:

Excessive alcohol: Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse. But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking (20 per cent of cases). Our policy is clear: Excessive consumption of alcohol is not permitted when you are at work, performing Google business, or attending a Google-related event, whether onsite or offsite.

Going forward, all leaders at the company – Directors, VPs and SVPs – will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged. For example, many teams have already put two-drink limits in place for events. Others use drink ticket systems. The onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams, and we will impose more onerous actions if problems persist.

Last week, thousands of Google employees joined a co-ordinated worldwide walkout to protest the US tech giant’s handling of sexual harassment. According to reports, some 20,000 Google employees and contractors participated in the protest in 50 cities around the world.

“We recognise that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” Pichai said in a message to employees, a copy of which was shared with AFP.

“It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

Pichai also noted that arbitration of harassment claims will be optional instead of obligatory.