Google CEO says censorship is done to comply with laws

In Mountain View Dublin New York and more Google employees walked out to protest the way Google handles sexual misconduct allegations

A week after Google workers around the globe walked off their jobs to protest reportedly lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct, the internet giant is promising change.

Speaking at a lunch hosted by the Canadian Club in Toronto, Geremia says Google has taken a much harder line on inappropriate behaviour, especially in the last two years, and that no one is more keen to solve issues around misconduct than its chief executive officer Sundar Pichai.

"We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that", Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post.

"We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training", Pichai said.

Google is joining a wave of companies that will no longer force its employees making sexual harassment claims into private arbitration.

In a memo, Pichai announced the new policy, while also defending Google's general policy of forced arbitration by claiming it never required confidentiality.

Several steps will be taken to provide better care for those seeking to make claims, including extended counselling and support for accommodations and company leave.

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The walkout, which took place on November 1, saw approximately 20,000 employees leave their Google offices around the globe at 11:10 a.m. local time.

Demma Rodriguez, head of equity engineering and a seven-year Google employee, said during the walkout that it was an important part of bringing fairness to the technology colossus. Google states that "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". The company in response has now outlined new policy to address complaints of sexual misconduct at the workplace. "It's clear we need to make some changes", Pichai noted. "But we also have goals as a company and we can't decide we are going to miss those".

Most impactful will be a shift away from forced arbitration, a highly-criticised practice that meant employees were contractually-bound to deal with complaints internally, in what some legal observers have described as being a "private justice system".

If bosses do not clamp down on drinking within their teams, "more onerous action will be imposed", the Google chief warned.

Ultimately, the freedom of employees to go public with sexual harassment claims should they choose to will shed some much-needed light on a situation that has been allowed to fester in the dark far too long.

"They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top", organizer and Google employee Stephanie Parker said in a press release.

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