One of the most progressive workplaces in the world, Google and parent company Alphabet have been accused of protecting those harassing employees sexually. More than 500 Google employees have sent an open letter to Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, asking the company to stop protecting the harassers.
This letter came out days after a former Alphabet employee published a tell-all article in the New York Times on her experience complaining about her manager.
“Alphabet does not provide a safe environment for those who face harassment in the workplace. Even when HR confirms harassment, no action is taken to make the reporter safe. For example, Emi Nietfeld shared in the New York Times, ‘My harasser still sat next to me. My manager told me HR wouldn’t even make him change his desk, let alone work from home or go on leave. I later learned that Google had similar responses to other employees who reported racism or sexism," the letter states.
The open letter claims that Alphabet has often tried to protect or reward abusers, citing an example where one person accused of coercing a co-worker into performing oral sex was awarded a $90 million exit package, and how another was awarded $35 million after the was made to resign following a sexual assault investigation.
More than 20,000 Google employees protested against sexual harassment cases in 2018. But the letter reveals that the company has not changed the way it functions and did not meet any of the Google Walkout demands.
In 2018, over 20,000 Google employees and contractors took part in a global walkout over sexual harassment and workplace culture at the company. In 2020, Alphabet was ranked the world’s eighth-best company to work for.
Google in its defence said in a statement to The Verge that the company has made improvements. “We've made significant improvements to our overall process, including the way we handle and investigate employee concerns, and introducing new care programmes for employees who report concerns,” the statement read.