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Sexual Misconduct Cases Will Be Handled Better: Google

Google isn't addressing another one of the protesters' grievance because it believes it doesn't have merit.

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Workers protest against Google's handling of sexual misconduct allegations at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. VOA
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Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.

CEO Sundar Pichai spelled out the concessions in an email sent Thursday to Google employees. The note of contrition came a week after the tech giant’s workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest management’s treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct involving men. The protest’s organizers estimated about 17,000 workers participated in the walkout .

“Google’s leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you’ve shared,” Pichai wrote in his email. “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes.” Pichai’s email was obtained by The Associated Press.

Google, Web summit, sexual misconduct
Google employees fill Harry Bridges Plaza in front of the Ferry Building during a walkout, Nov. 1, 2018, in San Francisco. Hundreds of Google employees around the world briefly walked off the job in a protest against what they said is the tech company’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives. VOA

Google bowed to one of the protesters’ main demands by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases. That will now be optional under the new policies. It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after the complaints of its women employees prompted an internal investigation concluding its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment

Google will also provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees. The breakdowns will include the number of cases that were substantiated within various company departments and list the types of punishment imposed, including firings, pay cuts and mandated counseling.

The company is also stepping up its training aimed at preventing misconduct, requiring all employees to go through the process annually instead of every other year. Those who fall behind in their training, including top executives, will be dinged in their annual performance reviews, leaving a blemish that could lower their pay and make it more difficult to get promoted.

Google, Web summit, sexual misconduct
Google employees walk off the job in a protest against what they said is the tech company’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives. VOA

The reforms are the latest fallout from a broader societal backlash against men’s exploitation of their women subordinates in business, entertainment and politics — a movement that has spawned the “MeToo” hashtag as a sign of unity and a call for change.

Google got caught in the crosshairs two weeks ago after The New York Times detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about the creator of Google’s Android software, Andy Rubin. The newspaper said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded the accusations were credible. Rubin has denied the allegations.

Like its Silicon Valley peers, Google has already openly acknowledged that its workforce is too heavily concentrated with white and Asian men, especially in the highest paying executive and computer programming jobs. Women account for 31 percent of Google’s employees worldwide, and it’s lower for leadership roles.

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Google employees gather in a courtyard as they take part in a walkout from their jobs at the Google campus in Kirkland, Washington. VOA

Critics believe that gender imbalance as created a “brogammer” culture akin to a college fraternity house that treats women as sex objects. As part of its ongoing efforts, Google will now require at least one woman or a non-Asian ethnic minority to be included on the list of candidates for executive jobs.

Also Read: Silicon Valley, Google Walk Off to Protest Against Mishandling of Sexual Harassment Cases

Google isn’t addressing another one of the protesters’ grievance because it believes it doesn’t have merit. The protesters demanded that women be paid the same as men for doing similar work, something that Google has steadfastly maintained that it has been doing for years. (VOA)

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Google is The Best Search Engine, Says Tim Cook

On a question on diversity at workplace, Cook said the Silicon Valley has been open to many different people from different walks of life

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a data privacy conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. VOA

Google Search engine — the default platform for iOS users — is the best, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said, adding that the company has put proper controls in its Safari web browser to safeguard users’ data.

In an interview with Axios on HBO on Sunday night, Tim Cook defended Apple’s billion-dollar deal with Google that keeps Google Search a default search platform on its devices.

“One, I think their (Google’s) Search engine is the best. But two, look at what we’ve done with the controls. We have private web browsing, we have intelligent tracking prevention.

“What we’ve tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It’s not a perfect thing, but it goes a long way in helping,” Cool told the Axios technology correspondent.

Google will reportedly pay Apple a whopping $9 billion in 2018 to remain the default search engine for iPhone’s Safari browser on iOS.

According to Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall (via Business Insider), this number would only continue to grow, potentially leading to a payment of $12 billion in 2019.

Cook has opposed privacy practices of some big tech companies, like Facebook, in the past, calling them a form of “surveillance”.

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Google best Search engine, we keep Safari safe: Tim Cook. Pixabay

When it comes to regulating the tech companies, Tim Cook said while he was “not a big fan of regulation,” but there comes time to “admit when the free market is not working”.

“I think it’s inevitable that there will be some level of regulation. I think Congress and the administration at some point will pass something,” Cook said.

“This is not a matter of privacy versus profits, or privacy versus technical innovation. That’s a false choice.

Also Read- Samsung Plans To Launch its First Foldable Smartphone in 2019

“Your device has incredible intelligence about you, but as a company I don’t have to have that,” the Apple CEO added.

On a question on diversity at workplace, Cook said the Silicon Valley has been open to many different people from different walks of life.

“But I agree 100 per cent from a gender point of view that the valley has missed it and tech in general has missed it,” he said. (IANS)