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Google rewrites sexual harassment policies after employee walkout

The chief executive, Sundar Pichai, has sent out a memo to all staff. Credit: AP

Google is making changes to its sexual harassment and misconduct policies - including a drinking limit for staff - a week after a global employee walkout.

Google staff around the world staged a walkout of their offices last Thursday in protest against the company's treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.

In a response, the company's chief executive Sundar Pichai sent a letter to all employees and said Google was updating its rules to sexual harassment, reporting and training.

"Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse," Mr Pichai wrote.

"But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking.

Google employees at its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, join others from around the world walking out of their offices. Credit: PA

Mr Pichai added: "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 on site or offsite.

He said there would be real consequences for not doing training.

In the memo, he confirmed: "Starting next year, all employees will complete mandatory sexual harassment training annually (currently required every two years)."

"Employees out of compliance with any required training will be docked one rating in the year end Performance cycle."

Staff in Singapore staged a walk out at 11am local time. Credit: Google Walkout For Real Change/Twitter

Google staff left their offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Zurich, London, Berlin and Dublin during the walkouts last week.

The lead of Google's Open Research group said on social media: "Collective action works. It will continue working".

The organisers behind the Google walkout said in a blog the company has "made progress" in addressing their complaints but said some demands had been ignored, including adding an employee representative to the company's board.

They said the company ignored their requests to address issues around "racism, discrimination and structural inequity."

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Google said it will provide more transparency to employees about incidents reported to the company around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes as part of its annual "Investigations Report".

It comes a fortnight after a New York Times story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin.

The report said Mr Rubin received a $90 million (£70m) severance package in 2014, even though Google concluded sexual misconduct allegations again him were credible.

Mr Rubin denied the allegations and said the article was inaccurate.

The same story also disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct of other executives and the Google walk out was the latest backlash against alleged male exploitation of women in business, entertainment and politics.

  • Google's detailed changes and commitments on Sexual Misconduct Policies

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