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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

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.

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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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Absence of Google Apps Hurting Huawei the Most

Ahead of the next round of trade talks between Washington and Beijing, US President Donald Trump's administration is mulling to issue licenses to some American firms that will let them sell non-sensitive equipment to Huawei

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FILE - A man uses his smartphone outside of a shop selling Huawei products at a shopping mall in Beijing, May 29, 2019. VOA

Chinese smartphone maker Huawei has confirmed that the US sanctions were hurting it badly, especially the absence of Google’s core Android software, Play Store and popular apps like Search and Maps on its devices.

According to a Financial Times report quoting a senior Huawei executive, the company hasn’t been successful in finding replacements for Google apps which are very popular on Android devices across the globe.

“There are so many Android users in Europe and south-east Asia. They’re so used to these Google applications on top of Android phones,” Joy Tan, Vice President of Public Affairs at Huawei US, was quoted as saying on Sunday.

“We can continue to use the Android platform since it is open-source, but we cannot use the services that help apps run on it.”

Also Read: DPIIT Sends Questionnaire to Amazon, Flipkart on FDI Norms Adherence: Report

Under the terms of the previous US trade ban, Google was barred from selling Android license to Huawei, meaning its phones could use the base open-source code, but would not have access to the all-important Play Store and Google apps.

A temporary licence was issued which allows Google to support and update the Android OS currently running on existing Huawei devices.

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Huawei smartphones are seen in front of displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

However, the trade ban has affected the development of future products. Huawei is also working on its own operating system HarmonyOS but that is far from reality.

Despite trade restrictions put in place by the US, Huawei last week generated 610.8 billion yuan ($86 billion) revenue during the first three quarters of this year, an increase of 24.4 per cent year-on-year, with a net profit margin of 8.7 per cent.

Richard Yu, the head of Huawei’s consumer business, during a media interview last month, said that if the situation does not change with the US government, the company would start using its HarmonyOS.

The newly-launched Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro doesn’t have access to Google Play services.

Ahead of the next round of trade talks between Washington and Beijing, US President Donald Trump’s administration is mulling to issue licenses to some American firms that will let them sell non-sensitive equipment to Huawei. (IANS)