Google staff ditch HR & start own harassment blog

Google staff ditch HR & start own harassment blog

The department which handles any form of harassment is HR. But at Google there’s another way – an employee-run message board.

‘Yes, at Google’ collates anonymous submissions from Google and Alphabet and circulates them companywide, according to five current recipients who work there – Bloomberg reports.

These current recipients do not have the authority to speak to the press about internal company affairs. According to two of the five, over 15,000 members of staff – 20% of their workforce – have signed up since October.   

With the lack of diversity in the technology sector an issue, ‘Yes, at Google’ is a method for workers inside to push for change.

Google management has no say on what goes on it (although they are promoting it as an example of how great a place Google is to work at), though teams or specific peoples are occasionally consulted about certain items prior to publishing, a person familiar with the matter said.

Allegations, according to documents seen by Bloomberg earlier this month, include:

  • “A colleague started a meeting off by making a joke that called a woman in the adjacent meeting room ‘some random b****.”
  • A complaint about Google’s on-campus hairdressers: “[Hairdressers say]: ‘I’ve never encountered hair like yours before’. [This] comes across as code for: ‘I’m not trained to cut the hair of people of your race’.”
  • A ‘Noogler’, new Googler, who was asked to go for drinks with an engineer. The email read: “Upon arriving, discovered there was no group. Subsequently informed by the engineer that she was expected to ‘sleep with everyone’ because that's the culture here.” This was accompanied by a note urging for more information to be shared “so [the Employee Relations Team] can look into this matter and address it appropriately”.  
  • “A male Googler drank excessively at an offsite event and touched a few different female Googlers in a manner that made them uncomfortable, made inappropriate comments, and followed two women back to their hotel room and told them ‘I’m following you’.” This matter was resolved by Google’s management: “Thanks to Googlers who came forward with information about these incidents, we investigated, substantiated the concerns and terminated the Googler's employment.”

A Google spokesperson said: “Our employees have numerous ways to raise issues - both negative and positive - with us, including through grassroots transparency efforts like this one. We take concerns seriously and take appropriate measures to address them.”

Peter Cappelli, George W Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, believes having a list similar to this “could be a pretty smart thing for an employer to do”. 

He explains: “You can find out stuff that's going on without having to do surveys. Employees don't necessarily trust hotlines, and they certainly don't always trust going to their supervisor with problems.” 

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