Google clamps down on alcohol-fuelled work events

Google clamps down on alcohol-fuelled work events and updates sexual harassment policies in bid to tackle harassment after massive employee protests

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the new measures in a post on Google 
  • Alcohol-fuelled work parties will now be banned under the sweeping rules 
  • The company will also be updating its sexual harassment training for staff 

Google is clamping down on alcohol-fuelled work events as part of a plan to stamp out a culture of sexual harassment at the organisation.

The head of the web giant has released an ‘action plan’ detailing how the site will turn its act around – just days after workers across the globe walked out in protest against covered up sleaze allegations.

Android creator Andy Rubin had reportedly been given a hero’s goodbye and a $90million (£69m) pay packet, despite allegations he had forced a woman to perform a sex act on him.

Female workers last week told of the ‘pervasive’ culture of sexual harassment at the company with many sharing stories about impropriety by male colleagues during a global protest.

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Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, announced the sweeping new measures on the company’s website

One protester in San Francisco held a sign that read, ‘Happy to quit for $90M, no sexual harassment required’

Following mass outrage, Google chief Sundar Pichai told of how he would turn the company around, and promised to ‘better support’ those who brought cases against fellow workers and executives.

On the current boozing culture he said: ‘Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse’.

In 20 per cent of cases which had been brought forward involving harassment, the perpetrator had been drinking, Mr Pichai noted.

He said in a document attached to a blog post online: ‘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 onsite or offsite.’

Some teams had imposed ‘two-drink limits’, he said, while others had introduced a ticketing system to stop alcohol flowing freely.

‘Going forward, all leaders at the company – Directors, VPs and SVPs – will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged,’ the plan notes.

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

Workers protest against Google’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations at the company’s Mountain View, California, headquarters last week

Google employees are shown outside of the San Francisco area Google office during the global walkout on Thursday

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From now on, the website will publish a report containing details of sexual harassment cases brought by workers.

The process it follows to handle harassment and discrimination will also be made public.

And a specialist team will be set up to investigate sexual harassment and discrimination cases.

The tech boss said it had become clear that to live up to the ‘high bar’ set for Google, changes must be made.

Every year from now, workers will complete mandatory sexual harassment training. Previously, the process happened every two years. Those who do not will see their annual rating cut.

New hires at Google, dubbed ‘Nooglers’ by the company, will all have training with a focus on harassment and discrimination.

Last week, a Google workers’ group, reminiscent of a fledgling union, also demanded an end to forced arbitration – a request the company has agreed to.

Those who do report cases will also be better cared for, Mr Pichai promised, with time off granted as well as long-term counselling paid for by the company.

Google employees fill Harry Bridges Plaza in front of the Ferry Building during a walkout in San Francisco

And following complaints about how HR treated workers, those with a grievance will soon be able to take colleagues to meetings.

Reacting to the announcements, the organisers of last week’s Google Walkout said the pledges proved ‘collective action works’.

But the group said that, although it ‘commended’ the process, some concerns had been ignored – such as their demand for a employee representative to be put on the board.

In a post, on website Medium, organizer Stephanie Parker said of the response: ‘We demand a truly equitable culture, and Google leadership can achieve this by putting employee representation on the board and giving full rights and protections to contract workers, our most vulnerable workers, many of whom are Black and Brown women.’

‘Sexual harassment is the symptom, not the cause. If we want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we must fix these structural imbalances of power,’ the group post added.

In a warning that action will continue until demands are fully met, the group said: ‘This is a global movement, and the beginning of our continued work, not the end.’ 

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