Last week thousands of Google employees walked out in protest against the out of court settlements of higher executives in accusations of sexual harassment. This forced Google to take notice and change policies on workplace harassment.
The Alphabet unit is now making arbitration on cases of sexual harassment/misconduct optional and vows to report investigation and findings to staff and make the process more transparent.
“Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns. We’ll give better support and care to the people who raise them. And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace,” Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai wrote in a public message to employees on Thursday.
The company intends to hold a town hall staff meeting on sexual harassment.
Before this, the company has a policy of mandatory arbitration, forcing employees to settle out of court in such cases and eliminated the option of going to court. Mandatory arbitration clauses have come under harsh scrutiny as the #metoo movement has gathered steam over the past year.
In February, the attorney generals of all 50 states issued a rare joint letter urging legislation to ensure victims of sexual harassment have the option of a day in court. Some states, including California, this year passed laws that limit the use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual misconduct cases. The California governor, however, vetoed a bill that would have restricted arbitration.
All this comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and raises the questions why corporations prefer arbitration rather than court cases? Court cases lead to outside scrutiny to the inner workings of an organisation and brings media attention. These things lead bad public image and losing consumer. Companies prefer to brush such cases under the carpet than to honestly deal with such cases and hold individuals accountable. It can not be ignored that work place harassment and misconduct follow parents of hierarchy, executives and people who hold power in a workplaces are in a position to abuse it, due to the fact that these individuals are in higher positions and are important to the workings of the organization. But in doing so companies prioritize profit over the safety and security of their workers, which is at best immoral and at worst criminal negligence.