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Google to address sexual misconduct, but concern is that it won’t include contract workers

November 09, 2018

Google on Thursday announced plans to overhaul its sexual harassment policies. The move follows global protests last week after The New York Times reported the tech powerhouse gave a $90 million payout to a top executive after determining that sexual misconduct allegations against him were credible.

“Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns,” CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email sent to employees yesterday. “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.”

The company also held a town hall on Thursday for full-time Google employees.

Changes announced in a blog post include making arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, an internal investigations practice guide outlining expectations for how concerns are handled within Google, and improved training, among other things.

However, the Tech Workers Coalition, which includes employees at Google, is concerned temporary, vendor and contract workers, or TVCs, may not benefit from the announced changes.

“TVCs didn’t receive this email this morning, and have been excluded from the townhall,” it wrote in a twitter post. “This deliberate slight demonstrates the caste-like system deployed by Google, which fails to protect its workers and our colleagues.”

However, a Google spokesperson told Recode that temporary, vendor and contract workers are not normally invited to Google company meetings like TGIFs and All Hands.

Sources told Gizmodo the process for filing complaints or otherwise raising concerns for the thousands of contract workers contracted by Google is particularly frustrating and confusing, potentially discouraging contractors from filing complaints or otherwise raising concerns. And for contractors specifically, Gizmodo reported it does not appear Google has a plan to improve it anytime soon.

In its announcement, Google stated that it investigates all matters in which a complaint is made by a TVC against an employee, and requires that suppliers do the same for complaints against TVCs and report back to Google on any complaints. Google noted it recently broadened the reach of its Supplier Code of Conduct and requires Google suppliers to “demonstrate a commitment to identify, measure and improve a culture of diversity and inclusion through all aspects of workplace management” and holds suppliers accountable for maintaining “a program that provides workers with a means to report grievances anonymously and without fear of retaliation, unless prohibited by law.”

“We’ll continue routinely reviewing our suppliers for adherence with these provisions,” Google stated. “For those suppliers that employ Google’s TVCs, we’ll consider the findings from these reviews in evaluating whether to continue our supplier relationships.”


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