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Google listens to protesters, alters sexual harassment policies

It wasn’t that long ago that many corporations believed sexual harassment was not an issue deserving of much more than occasional lip service. But times have changed and many companies are trying to get ahead of the problem and resolve complaints quickly and to the satisfaction of complainants before a sexual harassment lawsuit is filed.

Google recently said it is changing the way it processes sexual harassment complaints after 20,000 Google employees walked off to protest its past responses.

The company says arbitration Is now optional for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. It added that workers who do not complete sexual harassment training will be penalized in their performance reviews.

"We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that," Google’s CEO said, adding that “it’s clear we need to make some changes."

Organizers of the walk-out said they welcome the concessions, but will continue to press for more needed changes in gender pay disparity and representation on the board of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

“They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top,” a Google employee and protest organizer said in a released statement.

The protests were triggered by a New York Times story about a $90 million golden parachute a Google executive received upon his exit after he had been accused of sexual harassment.

Other changes coming to the company: Reuters reports that Google will provide more information about its sexual harassment investigations. It will also investigate harassment complaints made by contractors against its employees.

It is wise for companies such as Google to do more to address sexual harassment problems in their workforces. It makes for better working conditions and could help them avoid costly sexual harassment and retaliation litigation in the future.

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