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Google staff walk out over women's treatment (bbc.co.uk)
383 points by oneeyedpigeon 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 435 comments



All of their demands seem pretty reasonable. It looks like the big gripe is that basically there's no real process in place for situations of misconduct in the office. To draw an analogy, this would be like Google not having a process to investigate and resolve site outages - it would be unthinkable, so why aren't they treating their organisation with the same rigor they treat their website.


> there's no real process in place for situations of misconduct in the office.

There shouldn't be a "process" set by Google when it comes to sexual harassment, employees should be able to sue, that's the process,sexual harassment is a crime, they can't sue because Google force them into arbitration, which should be illegal for an employer to do that to an employee IMHO. this is a denial of justice.


Employers have a duty of care to protect employees from harm in the workplace, and that includes protection from sexual abuse.

A lot stuff that counts as sexual harassment in the work place is not a crime.

You don't sue people who perpetrate crimes, you prosecute them. You're asking the victims of sexual harassment to persuade police to investigate and prosecutors to prosecute, and we know that they won't because we know they already don't.

You're also saying that no action can be taken without meeting the very high criminal burden of proof - that this thing happened beyond all reasonable doubt. That's going to leave harassers free to continue.

Maybe you just meant that sexual harassment is unlawful and employees have an existing remedy through civil courts, but this would be pisspoor management. If your company employs people who reduce productivity of others in the workforce by sexually harassing them it's in the organisation's best interest to manage those people so they stop the harassment or leave the company.


> Employers have a duty of care to protect employees from harm in the workplace

Yet common bullying and generally abusive workplaces are completely legal in California. You have the right to quit anytime, not much else.


> Yet common bullying and generally abusive workplaces are completely legal in California.

They aren't covered by special, workplace-specific laws; there are, however generally-applicable civil laws that apply to them.


I think you're being too rigid. There are situations where one employee forces themselves on another at the christmas party. In that situation obviously the right call is to report it to the police and to have a disciplinary process internally for gross misconduct. But there's a million smaller examples of harassment that just need to be tackled by the organization. For example, if a man repeatedly makes comments about a woman's appearance, there needs to be a process where the woman can report that, be heard and have the issue addressed - it may be as simple as the employee's boss pulling the into a room and saying "stop being a creep". Not everything is solved by law suits.

However, obviously if things do escalate, access to the law should be guaranteed and the binding arbitration should clearly be dropped.


It's odd how on one hand, the consensus here is that the quality of the work environment is very important to the productivity and the wellbeing of employees. And on the other hand, people argue that this type of misconduct should not be punished unless it's literally illegal.


I think a lot of the hesitation is people fear kangaroo courts and termination without due process due to false accusations or exaggerations. Much as the extra legal stuff that goes on in college.


In other words, people here are more concerned with a phenomenon that is measurably rare relative to the downright epidemic that people are seeking to counteract. I think that says a lot about one's values.


Whether a phenomenon is rare has a lot to do with how common it is. People getting shafted by kangaroo courts is rare when kangaroo courts are rare. What happens when you make kangaroo courts common?


What you have is an epidemic of powerful employees abusing their position to take advantage of junior employees.

What seems to be suggested to fight it are tools that would be extremely effective against other junior employees (even if the allegations are untrue), but only middlingly effective against the real problem of powerful employees.

That will understandably lead to push back from junior employees who fear abuse. Offer solutions which would primarily work against powerful employees and would be ineffective against other junior employees and I think there would be much more support.


How rare false accusations are is completely irrelevant. If the goal is justice, then due process is non-negotiable. Period.


The goal is not justice. The goal is to limit the damage done by misbehaving employees, as cheap as possible.


No justice, no peace


In my experience "cry-bullying" is not as rare as you make it out to be.


Prosecution is one method of deterring thieves from robbing my store blind. I have also tried locked doors, security cameras and not leaving the store unattended.

I like your argument that it is cheaper to just let people rob me blind and then burn time and energy catching them, prosecuting time, and hoping for a conviction as a deterrent.

With any luck using your system crime will magically disappear on it’s own.

I am going to put my fingers in my ears now and make noises and ignore the worlds problems. It is certainly easier to not take responsibility. Good advice.


Comparing sexual assault to a store robbery in a tone of sarcasm is at best a poor judgement call.

I agree that assaulters need to take responsibility for their actions. However, when they don't, the law needs to be there to protect the victims.


I think it is poor judgment to create an organization that does nothing to secure its people from sexual harassment. Not sure why you would disagree but if that is what you intended I do not want to work for you.


Youre being incredibly unfair: That's not at all what I said, and your post I responded to also made no claim along these lines. You're misrepresenting my and your past statements.

What we were talking about is ending forced arbitration (the "process" referred to by the person you responded to) so that the law can be used to protect victims. That doesn't mean protections at work suddenly go away. It also doesn't mean suddenly employers will let sexual harassment run rampant either. It's not a binary either-or choice at all. So why not all protections.


The post I replied to implied that the criminal justice system is the only solution to these problems:

"employees should be able to sue, that's the process,sexual harassment is a crime, they can't sue because Google force them into arbitration,"

Notwithstanding the unbelievable confusion of law in that post is a whole other conversation.

I argued that companies should also have a plan in place to prevent sexual harassment at work by using an analogy to robbery, also a crime, that we use preventative measures to stop despite there being a criminal system punishing robbery.

Your response was claiming I was expressing poor judgment for arguing that companies are responsible for not creating environments rife for sexual harassment.

"Comparing sexual assault to a store robbery in a tone of sarcasm is at best a poor judgement call."

I don't agree. I think it's a reasonable demonstration of the absurdity of the position I'm replying to.

I don't know what else you wrote, but that's what I replied to.


Re-read his post: people should be able to sue in lieu of forced arbitration, they're never advocating for "create an environment for sexual assaults". Nowhere and no one is arguing for creating an environment for sexual assaults in this thread. The reason it seems like an absurdity is because you're setting it up to be one when no one is advocating it, which is the definition of a strawman.

Sorry, but if you're still going to stick on this point then this'll be the last thing I say on the matter.


This is a frustrating thread. Everyone is trying to outdo themselves. Feels like the Peoples front of Judea


Only if the law can prove beyond reasonable doubt that a crime happened, which is often difficult and why it makes sense to metaphorically secure the premises through an internal HR process as well.


> There shouldn't be a "process" set by Google when it comes to sexual harassment, employees should be able to sue, that's the process,

Except that, under the law, the company’s response (including the absence or inadequacy of any process) to certain situations is part of what determines if they are sexual harassment.

> sexual harassment is a crime

No, it's not, and if it were the process would not be for employees to sue, because crimes are prosecuted exclusively by the government in the U.S. legal system.


it's a different country, but ... in India in 2013 some types of sexual harassment were deemed criminal and punishable by time in prison.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Law_(Amendment)_Act,_...


In the US, many types of sexual harassment are also crimes, but sexual harassment, per se, is a particular civil wrong, not a crime.


yes. i understand.

also: some types of sexual harassment that are not crimes in the US are crimes in India.


That’s actually not true, it varies by state, but many allow private criminal prosecutions to occur.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_prosecution


“Many” seems unwarranted (especially when it comes to prosecution of a charge rather than entry of a complaint or pursuit of an indictment), but, yes, that was an overgeneralization. But, it is by far the dominant rule.


Many? From the list I count six where the wording implies that a prosecution can occur without permission from the executive branch.


I wonder how often this actually happens? In any case this is interesting.


forced arbitration has been the bane of combatting anything legally. it basically is now used to completely remove any employee or consumer ability to sue. This is used for literally everything. Every employer does this now, every software product, every hardware.

I don't understand how this is even acceptable.


Because it doesn't actually do that. Only in the u.s. do people believe that suing over anything and everything is an efficient or effective mechanism of justice

"Sue it out" is probably the least effective possible conflict resolution mechanism along almost any axis.

The underlying goal of arbitration is to ensure effective resolution of non-complex situations and reserve the courts for actually complex cases, instead of now, where they are used because people hope they can make a bunch of money.

The only thing I'm aware of is people complain of bias of arbitrators using the proxy of how often business wins relative to people in courts (with no evaluation of whether people should be winning as much as they do in court).

Otherwise I have seen nothing that suggests that arbitration is not in fact very effective and efficient at reducing the cost and time involved.


the primary thing about arbitration

- it prevents class-action lawsuits

- it is funded typically by the company, and is very likely to agree with the company

Maybe suing constantly is an american thing, but if that is to be addressed it should be by congress not by individual companies wanting to circumvent civil law.


I'm not trying to troll you, but it's a voluntary "denial of justice". No one compels or coerces people to seek employment there. They apply, go through several interviews, and then voluntarily agree to whatever it is they agree to before day #1 of work. As long as people are willing to work there under XYZ conditions, people will continue to work there under XYZ conditions.


By the same token, employees are allowed to advocate for change once they are working there.


People voluntarily entered into indentured servitude once upon a time, too.


They didn't have options - every single Google employee(past and present) has options. They selected this one, voluntarily. Indentured servitude is not a valid analogy.


Most indentured servitude in the US was a voluntary agreement [1] although all such agreements are now illegal by the 13th amendment.

Also, there exist the concept of a so-called "unconscionable contract." I'm not saying this proposition is true, but I'm submitting for evaluation: is the act of submitting to private investigation processes that may be used as evidence against you in civil or criminal courts unconscionable?

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servitude_in_the_...


They do not have any options where forced arbitration is not one of the conditions. Pretty much every corporation does this, so there are no realistic options for avoiding it.

There may be a very small number of cases where an employee successfully negotiated against this clause, but it probably requires the candidate to be a true outlier in terms of talent and skill set for the company to even consider it.


Maybe they should unionize? They could then elect representatives and have a seat at the table with management.


> Maybe they should unionize? They could then elect representatives and have a seat at the table with management.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_VL4gqrCHc&t=392

But if they did that, they be giving up control over their careers and the right to deal with their problems with their supervisors, one on one. /s


They definitely have a process in place (they advertise their process a lot during orientation) but the demands I saw explicitly say they aren't good enough.


[flagged]


And only a few short decades ago I could fire someone for being gay, or forbid my wife from opening a bank account. And it was a mere century ago that women literally couldn't vote.

I don't see why the fact that social mores change invalidates the social standard we have today.

Furthermore, why do you folk always jump straight to the "b..b..but false harassment!" argument? All it does is demonstrate that you actually don't care at all about the original problem.

Experts place false sexual misconduct allegations at 2-10% (https://qz.com/980766/the-truth-about-false-rape-accusations...), and estimate that that number would be even lower if you include all the women who were harassed and never report to start with.

So why are you willing to throw 90-98% of harassed women to the sharks, in order to protect 2-10% of accused men? Plus there's the whole strawman that allegations are always believed. Of course there should be fact checking. In fact, even in the #metoo era, men almost never face repercussions for false allegations (and often not for real ones.)

Your statement that unfounded harassment claims do not lead to repercussions is flat out false. There is no company that would not discipline someone for bringing a harassment claim that was demonstrated to be false.

In short: this argument demonstrates that what you really want to do is only to preserve the status quo and do in fact not give a shit about a major problem in our culture.


   invalidates the social standard we have today.
The social standards we have today include that false accusations of harassment largely have no repercussions, and amount to a destruction of standards of justice. I don't want to live in a totalitarian society where hate-mobs replace argument, why do you promote one?

   don't care at all about the original problem.
I care about the original problem, but believe it to be marginal in comparison with the false accusation problem, and the decline of standards of justice.

   Experts place false sexual 
   misconduct allegations at 2-10%
The article you cite does not provide any evidence of this claim whatsoever, did you even read it?

    throw 90-98% of harassed women to the 
    sharks, in order to protect 2-10% 
You seem to think that marginal inconveniences of women (let's not forget that the Google mob was protesting because some guy hit on some woman at a party!), is more important that human rights of men?


> Experts place false sexual misconduct allegations at 2-10% (https://qz.com/980766/the-truth-about-false-rape-accusations...), and estimate that that number would be even lower if you include all the women who were harassed and never report to start with.

Those numbers are specifically for rape, not sexual misconduct. I would hope that the false accusation rate for violent felonies is pretty low. Assuming this is still the case with lesser charges or non-criminal behavior is disingenuous.


> what downsides are there for false harassment claims

There are major downsides to making true harassment claims: you get denounced as a liar and a slut. This is the main reason why so many claims went unreported, and the #metoo movement is one of solidarity which makes it possible for people to actually report true claims without ruining their career. Actually deliberately making a false harassment claim is potentially career suicide.

(Jacob Wohl thought it would be easy to bribe people into making false harassment claims, and this blew up in his face: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/robert-mue... )


[flagged]


So because Asia Argento has sexually harassed someone, the MeToo movement is discredited? Some of the comments in this thread are unbelievable


You know, just because you don't empathize with how in our culture and society a woman being called a "liar and a slut" can be both career and social suicide, doesn't mean that it isn't a major downside for other people...

Does the actions of a leader discredit a movement? Can one even say that #MeToo has a single leader? Do you know anything about the #MeToo movement?


> Indeed, what downsides are there for false harassment claims?

Many people who get harassed opt to change teams, companies, or professions rather than actually pursue a formal complaint against their harasser. Perhaps they are mistaken (I don't think so), but they seem to believe that there are real downsides to filing even true harassment claims, to the extent that the aforementioned career upheavals seem easier.


> Perhaps they are mistaken, but they seem to believe that there are real downsides to filing even true harassment claims

Why can’t both be true?

For what you are implying to make any sense you have to assume some sort of equivalence:

1) Between the kind of woman who makes a false claim and the kind of woman who makes a true one.

AND

2) Between the kind of man who is guilty and the kind of man who is falsely accused.

I don’t think either of these two claims holds any water.


Even if you believe that, why shouldn’t there be a process to investigate the claims? You think all harassment claims should be automatically dismissed as false instead?


   all harassment claims should be 
No, of course not. Symmetrically, the should also not automatically accepted as true.

There should be an objective, measurable process. Given the cul-de-sac that organisations like Google have been strong-armed into, I think the obvious next step is

(1) to record all work-time interaction of all employees and store them for a long time, e.g. at least 10 years.

(2) Give a absolutely clear-cut criteria as to what counts as acceptable behaviour and what doesn't.


>No, of course not. Symmetrically, the should also not automatically accepted as true.

This. I imagine most are absolutely true, but there are some that absolutely are not. I've personally been accused by rape, online, of someone in another state that I've never even been to. Fortunately, no one took the claim serious but I imagine there are many innocent people that have been wrongly accused for whatever reason.

I also had a friend, that was using OkCupid, reject a girl very politely in the first message or two. She then went on 'cheaterville' and posted that he gave her sexual transmitted diseases/infections and made multiple accounts alleging the same, one even as him with his name. He's an actor, he was up for a role and they retracted their offer when googling his name brought the cheaterville page up on the first page. Now if these two instances have happened to 2 guys from the midwest that have no power or money, I can only imagine there are quite a few false accusations regularly. I also imagine there are many many more TRUE accusations.

We need to protect individuals regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation but at the same time we need to avoid workplace harassment turning into McCarthyism.


   I imagine most are absolutely 
   true,
I don't, for two reasons.

(1) There is simply no agreement currently on what counts as harassment.

(2) Anecdote: I've been involved in investigating a sexual harassment claim at a previous employer, at it was absolutely and categorically and provably false.

   turning into McCarthyism.
Too late. That ship has sailed a long time ago. The situation has gotten so out of hand, that recording all employee interaction might indeed be the only way forward.


>(1) There is simply no agreement currently on what counts as harassment.

This is an absolutely fair observation.

>The situation has gotten so out of hand, that recording all employee interaction might indeed be the only way forward.

Yeah, I think something like bodycams is likely the most effective solution to the issue but then things get tricky for various industries, stuff like patient/client confidentiality laws, trade secrets, etc. Not to mention stuff like using the restroom, where sexual harassment could still take place.

Then audio-only wouldn't cover miming explicit actions.

It's certainly a problem with no easily actionable answer.


> store them for a long time, e.g. at least 10 years.

Not sufficient. Should store them for at least 36 years.


> Even if you believe that, why shouldn’t there be a process to investigate the claims?

Because it quickly becomes a witch-hunt.

It is hard enough to have a fair investigation within a proper court system and legal framework - it’s far more likely any Google process will end up as a kangaroo court than the process leading to any justice.


So you think all claims should be dismissed as false and people who are actually subjected to sexual harassment and coercion at work should have no recourse.


> So you think all claims should be dismissed as false

Why would you think that?

I think the majority of claims need to go into the “not really sure” bucket where they belong.

Acknowledging this basic truth does not mean you have to then do nothing.


Which is why they merit investigation. For which there should be a process. Without an investigation process, what alternatives would you suggest for avoiding treating all claims as true or all claims as false?


> what alternatives would you suggest

There are many well tested solutions but they all carry different trade offs.

E.g.

- Have a zero tolerance policy on relationships between colleagues. This works well in smaller to mid-size companies.

Or,

- When you receive a complaint move the accuser and accused into different teams.

Etc.


> When you receive a complaint move the accuser and accused into different teams.

That's a very good way to be found liable for both later harassment by the accused and, if you move the accuser, for retaliation; and also a PR nightmare when it is discovered to have been your policy or even a common practice to move accused wrongdoers without follow-up (just ask the Catholic Church.)


> just ask the Catholic Church

If priests had been moved around for simply leering at a woman or making a suggestive sexual comment I don’t think there would have been any outrage.

I hope you don’t think I’m suggesting a company should cover up serious crimes - or any crimes for that matter.


> I hope you don’t think I’m suggesting a company should cover up serious crimes

You are suggesting that they should shuffle people around without investigation to quiet complaints of situations against which are obligated by law to protect their employees, including potentially involuntary reassignment of the reporting party (again, without investigation of the facts) despite the legal prohibition on retaliation.


> to quiet complaints

Uh no - to protect their employees from abuse.

> despite the legal prohibition on retaliation.

Why is it retaliation to seperate the accused and accuser?

In fact if you don’t seperate them you are opening yourself up to legal liability and a PR nightmare.


> Have a zero tolerance policy on relationships between colleagues. This works well in smaller to mid-size companies.

This addresses only the tiniest subset of issues, and mostly the ones toward the consensual end of the spectrum. Groping; quid pro quo suggestions (subtle or explicit); coercive threats (subtle or explicit); lewd remarks; invitations to strip clubs; etc ad nauseum (and yes, they're nauseating) have nothing to do with actual romantic relationships.

> When you receive a complaint move the accuser and accused into different teams.

Due to the nature of company hierarchies, this almost inevitably punishes the person lower on the reporting chain much more than it does the one higher - both in terms of short term impacts and long term career advancement. Which often means punishing the victim, due to how the power dynamics of harassment interactions tend to work out.

It's also a pretty damn weak reaction. If your Director of X insinuates that they'll fire an engineer if the engineer won't sleep with the director, you think the only consequence for the director should be that that engineer no longer reports to them?


> This addresses only the tiniest subset of issues, and mostly the ones toward the consensual end of the spectrum.

Not at all - in practice it removes ambiguity which is where most of the issues stem.

> this almost inevitably punishes the person lower on the reporting chain

At a large company that is not true - it’s actually the opposite.

For those below director level it’s usually a privilege to be able to shift teams.

On the other hand when you are director level and up it’s usually a negative because most of your ability to operate effectively comes from the interpersonal relationships you have built up.

> It's also a pretty damn weak reaction.

It’s a weak reaction based on typically weak evidence. In fact most commonly there is no evidence at all.

What it does is it ensures any abuse is stopped.

In practice it’s one of the most effective techniques I’ve seen because it can be used to nip problems in the bud - nobody feels too bad about using the system early and often.


Your much more likely to have somewhere to reassign the lower level employee to than the higher level employee simply because there are fewer roles total at the higher level. Unless both must be reassigned, you end up punishing only the lower level employee.

It doesn’t ensure abuse is stopped. It may just expose a different set of employees to abuse. It doesn’t send a message that abuse is unacceptable or will meet with meaningful consequences. It’s only a solution to anything if the only problematic interactions are between two specific employees. If you have an employee with a boundary problem or who enjoys abusing their position or who “just can’t help themselves”, it does nothing to prevent or deter them from subjecting another report to the same unacceptable behavior. Like the molesting priests mentioned in another thread - moving them to another parish accomplishes nothing except to make it clear that they can get away with misbehavior and to expose a new set of victims to abuse.


> than the higher level employee simply because there are fewer roles total at the higher level.

Maybe at the very top - not for the majority of cases though.

> It doesn’t send a message that abuse is unacceptable or will meet with meaningful consequences.

Does sending a message that abuse is unacceptable stop abuse?

It seems to me that the only people it scares are the people who aren’t a problem in the first place.

In truth such a message seems to enable abusers although I couldn’t explain to you why.

> moving them to another parish accomplishes nothing

That might be the case when children are involved.

In a workplace context though such an approach empowers potential victims.

It empowers victims in four key ways:

1) It stops women from threatening innocent men - saying “I can make you move teams to an equivalent position” is not particularly threatening - more of a pain in the ass.

2) It limits the ability of a male manager to sexually pressure his female subordinates. Saying “you will never advance in this company unless you ...” carries a lot less weight when you can easily switch managers.

3) It empowers women to be able to voice concerns without having to worry about getting people fired.

You’d be surprised at the number of women who keep quiet about real problems because they don’t want an overzealous HR to come in and ruin people’s livelihoods.

4) It limits abuse without requiring strong evidence of abuse in a way that doesn’t result in strong backlash.


   Have a zero tolerance policy on 
   relationships between colleagues. 
Here is an interesting though experiment: Remove all humans from this planet who are the direct or indirect descendent of a couple whose relationship started at work.

Conjecture: the planet would be depopulated.


You do a chromosomal analysis on everyone before you use a gendered pronoun to describe them? Because you can't tell what their chromosomes are just by appearance.


I can have an educated guess from just a brief glance -- especially if the other person doesn't actively tries to mislead me on such an important issue.


And why the fuck do you care about other people's chromosomes?


I don't care directly about chromosomes, they are put an extremely good proxy for one's reproductive abilities, hence an extremely good biological correlate for sex (i.e. reproductive role).

I care about fertility, because reproduction is more-or-less the single most important duty every human has. It is also difficult a space to navigage, therefore all indicators and heuristics that help me appreciate his/her sex efficiently, makes navigating this difficult space much easier, hence is a friendly gesture.

Here is an interesting question for you to ponder: Why do basic facts about human biology upset you so much, so much so in fact, that you use the act of procreation as an expletive?


> this would be like Google not having a process to investigate and resolve site outages - it would be unthinkable, so why aren't they treating their organisation with the same rigor they treat their website.

Because, Google is a company that builds products. I am interested in their products and in the fact that their products work, not much in the behaviour of the people building them- given the fact that they are located in a supposedly civilized country anyway, where serious misconducts should be prosecuted by law. The internal squabbles and complaints of the company are of very little relevance for their users, as it should be.


It's worth noting that one of their demands is dropping the binding arbitration that essentially forces employees to forgo their right to legal recourse for civil matters. Not every instance of unacceptable behaviour is a criminal matter.


If you're not interested in the internal workings of Google, then why bother? There are people who are, and they are the ones driving this conversation. Let them spend their energy and effort figuring it out while you enjoy the result of their work.


> why bother?

Because I'm a bit annoyed by what seems to me a growing push towards confusing the judgement of someone's work with their moral qualities. I see it as fundamentally anti-intellectual, as it strives to bring extraneous criteria in the evaluation of what should stand and be judged on its own. A scientific theory or a work of art aren't less valuable because their authors or proponents are or aren't communists, or arians; a literary masterpiece isn't diminished by the fact that its author was an anti-semite, or sadist; a great movie director remains a great director even if she did horrible things in her private life. Very little of our past science and philosophy and arts would still be standing if we were to apply these criteria, and I very strongly doubt we'd gain something better. Every single time "political" criteria have been used to judge the value of intellectual products, it's been the indicator of serious troubles, both for the society doing it and for the overall quality of the disciplines.


That is your personal choice, and is fine. But I think you can happily coexist with these other people:

- Those who care about influencing their culture and want to do what they can to change it.

- Those who are concerned with where their money goes and whether or not they think that that is the most effective use of their money.

Feel free to ignore the concerns of those groups and do what you want. But I don't think that wading into a conversation you fundamentally don't want to be a part of is effective.


> I don't think that wading into a conversation you fundamentally don't want to be a part of...

I was replying to a comment that claimed that

"no real process in place for situations of misconduct in the office [..] would be like Google not having a process to investigate and resolve site outages - it would be unthinkable"

This to me is clearly a confusion between two completely different things: what Google produces, and what are Google's internal ethics. iPhones are not worse products because working with Steve Jobs was a nightmare. I value the distinction.


>I see it as fundamentally anti-intellectual, as it strives to bring extraneous criteria in the evaluation of what should stand and be judged on its own. A scientific theory or a work of art aren't less valuable because their authors or proponents are or aren't communists

The ethics of science does exactly this. A common question which has been asked for much of the 20th Century is: should we use scientific results that are the product of non-consensual human experimentation. an extreme but often used example experiments that were carried out by the Nazis at concentration camps. Outside of science consider the debate over the works of Wagner [0], Knut Hamson [1], or Heidegger [2]. Ethics matters when judging intellectual output. For

These are fundamental questions of ethics which have a long intellectual history of debate and discussion. You are welcome to hold your own opinions on them, but I don't think the way in which you are framing the debate is helpful, e.g. "a growing push", "confusing the judgement", "fundamentally anti-intellectual", etc... Ethical questions which have received this much thoughtful discussion and examination should be treated with respect.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagner_controversies

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/28/books/28hams.html

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Heidegger_and_Nazism#Th...


"A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously"

Can anyone help me understand the rationale behind the anonymous part, with respect to due process and how the framework for anonymous accusations can be abused by bad actors?

Edit- I have a question about the anonymous nature of reporting to HR, with respect to due process for the accuser and accused, maybe some of you can shed light on how you've seen it work in your experiences.

I've heard stories in the past, with details I'm not privy to, where coworkers were let go based on anonymous HR sexual misconduct allegations. I really hope that due process is involved for the accused and not just a "guilty until proven innocent" situation. What I mean is that evidence by the accuser is judged along the lines of probable cause that our police force uses to arrest or judges use to prosecute e.g. inappropriate advances caught on tape, unwanted email/text/chat messages in line with allegations, eye witness statements corroborated by fellow co-worker, etc.

There are a lot of introverted, socially awkward personality types in technical roles (on the spectrum?) with traits that can be perceived incorrectly, even negatively by neurotypical individuals and I fear the power of anonymous, "guilty until proven innocent" allegations standard that HR might start using to police the accused and trample on their right to due process since employment is at-will and you can be terminated for any reason, at any time, but in this situation you are ineligible for unemployment if it's recorded as misconduct.


Maybe they're referencing something like Callisto (YC Nonprofit W18):

"Founders will be able to use Callisto to securely store the identities of perpetrators of sexual coercion and assault. These identities will be encrypted in a way that not even the Callisto team can view. If multiple founders name the same perpetrator, they will be referred to an attorney who can then decrypt the founder’s contact info and reach out to provide them with free advice on their options for coming forward, including the option to share information with other victims of the same perpetrator." Source: https://blog.ycombinator.com/survey-of-yc-female-founders-on...


It's hard to imagine something more illegal than this when it comes to personal data protection.


Thank you for offering this. This is far more helpful than a truly anonymous system.


> Can anyone help me understand the rationale behind the anonymous part…

In general, 21% of workers who report misconduct suffer from retribution (source: National Business Ethics Survey).

An estimated 75% of workplace harassment victims experience retaliation when they speak up (source: US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission government agency).


That 75% number is not from the EEOC study. It is something the EEOC study cited. The original is from:

Lilia M. Cortina & Vicki J. Magley, Raising Voice, Risking Retaliation: Events Following Interpersonal Mistreatment in the Workplace, 8:4 J. OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH PSYCHOL. 247, 255 (2003).


I can't make sense of these numbers. Can you report misconduct without speaking up? Or is there a lot of retaliation that doesn't induce any suffering, or...?


"speaking up" means "not staying silent about harassment."


I have trouble imagining truly complete anonymity being helpful. This is an invitation to abuse the system. Abuse could result from personal conflicts and office politics, or even people who wish to undermine the system itself by entering bad data.


The point of an anonymous system is to encourage people to speak up without a first-mover problem, because in every case of ongoing sexual harassment there is never just 1 victim - it's always a pattern of behavior.

Someone receiving exactly 1 report is probably not a problem. Someone who accumulates reports continuously as team members change probably is.


> Someone who accumulates reports continuously as team members change probably is.

No. If the system is truly anonymous, then people outside the team can submit reports. Continuous accumulation would not indicate there is probably a problem with the accused, given the motive and opportunities for abuse of the reporting system.

Elsewhere in this thread the difference between anonymous and private is discussed, along with semi-anonymizing strategies for achieving privacy protection, which I believe would be helpful for the outcome you describe.


This is a good point. What about a person who has a pattern of accusing multiple people over time? If each of the accused individuals are all not accused by others, would this undermine the accusers credibility?

I wish this was hypothetical, but I once worked with a person that had 3 individuals over 2 years fired for this. Eventually they went too far and HR had to come to grips with an obvious mental illness being the root cause. This person was a great engineer and a good friend, which made it even harder for me and others to admit to ourselves the delusional nature of the claims.


> in every case of ongoing sexual harassment there is never just 1 victim - it's always a pattern of behavior.

citation please


That's straight up hyperbole, and probably is totally false. But it's unprovable anyway.


I'm genuinely confused by the apparently incredulousness at the idea that workplace sexual harassment is generally going to perpetrated (at it's roughly ~30% incidence rate) by "everyone" and not "a small but relatively powerful group of people who are generally not discovered".

This was ultimately the pattern at Uber, it was the pattern at Fox News, it was the pattern in Hollywood.


Total anonymity for accusers is indeed a concerning policy, but partial anonymity (i.e. from one's own team) isn't unreasonable. It ought to be possible to properly investigate misconduct allegations while minimizing the potential for gossip and recriminations.


I think that due process should include the right to face your accuser.


In the USA, that right applies to criminal prosecution but not civil cases.


In the courts, yes, but in an office?

EDIT: I should add that I am 100% for eliminating sexual harassment from the workplace (and in life), but unfortunately there's nothing that forces a company to give employees due process. I would guess that in most cases, even the appearance of inpropriety is enough to warrant termination for at-will employees.


[re: claim that due process includes the right to confront accuser]

> In the courts, yes

In the US, this is only true in criminal courts. Even when it reaches beyond company process to the courts, sexual harassment is a civil matter.


What if the facts can be independently verified ?(existence of material proof or witnesses etc)

I imagine the right process would be to receive a claim and investigate it. The initial report doesn’t need to pinned to a specific employee, and it can even be a bystander that way. If enough evidence rise from the investigation, outing the reporter doesn’t bring much to the table.

You’re right that it’s more tricky when it’s a “he says she says” situation, those would warrant more direct confrontation I guess ?


It’s not a criminal trial.


Meaning that people shouldn’t be treated fairly if prison time is not on the table?

There are principles that are only binding to the government, but worth following outside of the courtroom in a civilized society. Innocent until proven guilty is one of them.


> I really hope that due process is involved

Outside of civil service jobs, in the US there are no “due process” rights in employment decisions; what process is due is a matter of employment contract (which for non-unionized rank-and-file, and even non-executive management, employees usually means no process is due, because of “at-will” employment.)

Given that, and given that employers are legally bound to prevent retribution against reporters, anonymity for reporters is strongly incentivized.


Due process would certainly be nice when it comes to letting people go, but introducing it makes it much more difficult for a company to move quickly and adjust to market conditions. If a company faces lawsuits every time it makes any decison, it’ll be far more difficult to make any decison and will make that company far less dynamic. Sometimes that’s worth it, but there are cons to introducing due process too.


It's probably meant to alleviate fear of retribution.


I guess you missed the part of the question referring to due process


Maybe they mean privately, not anonymously?


[flagged]


Until you replace 'men' with any other sex, race, gender, etc. Calling valid, if perhaps overblown concerns is just 'bingo squares' maybe you need to consider your own bias.


Yes, I'm surprised the mods even allowed something so contrary to respectful dialogue. Calling a well considered position a 'bingo square' is not just trivializing in the extreme, it reads like flamebait.


This worry is unfounded.

Harassment is rarely the case of a single incident. Instead, people who harass other usually have a long history of harassing lots of people.

An anonymous complaint could be used not to determine guilt, but instead to trigger an investigation.

And if the person is guilty, then the investigation will almost certainly have a very easy time finding somebody, likely many, who will go on record with their incident of harassment.


And if they are innocent? That investigation will come with an impact to the accused. A serious one.


If they are innocent then nothing will happen to them as the investigation won't find anything.

That's how it should work. If someone gets accused of something, there should be an investigation. And if they did something wrong it will be outstanding obvious. If they didn't, then they won't find anything.

It is ridiculous to complain about an investigation, which should be the entire goal. To investigate and figure out what happened.


> If someone gets accused of something, there should be an investigation. And if they did something wrong it will be outstanding obvious. If they didn't, then they won't find anything.

Reading this genuinely frightens me.

Our legal system, with due process and "beyond reasonable doubt" and all the rest, regularly convicts people who are later found to be innocent. And, of course, regularly acquits people who are later found to have been clearly guilty. Even in countries with fewer complaints of bias and bad faith than the US, miscarriages of justice are not exceptional.

And here's this reply, suggesting that HR departments will simply get it right all the time. We're talking about people not trained in investigating anything, operating with minimal oversight under rules that have probably never been scrutinized, who in almost every case will face biases and incentives that would recuse any judge and strike any juror.

Discovering the truth is genuinely hard. If someone did something wrong, it will be "outstanding obvious"? What guarantees us a world so convenient and just that no one ever harasses in private and leaves only "he said, she said"? If someone did nothing wrong, investigations will find nothing? How have we gotten free from DARVO and coordinated dishonesty and all the other things that produce wrongful convictions (quite often of victims, on their attacker's word) in actual courts?

The certainty that every investigation will react a decisive conclusion, that official decisions are automatically trustworthy, that people who are found innocent are never harmed by public knowledge that they've been investigated. It's a display of faith in authority (any authority) that I truly don't understand - are people extending this same sort of blind confidence when police forces, churches, and politicians investigate themselves?


> HR departments will simply get it right all the time.

They weren't getting it right when they were letting harrassers off the hook.

It's not about truth or justice. It's about corporation trying to get rid of pesky humans doing human things. Harrassing, accusing. Until recently sweeping things under the rug was the best way to deal with it. Winds changed. Now it's cheaper to kick out men even if they possibly did nothing.

Woman reporting harrasment was a problem and was silenced or fired. Now man getting accused is the problem, gets aame treatment as women got earlier because now it's more efficient to get rid of him.

Perfect justice is never efficient.


Part of this is due to incentives. Police and elected officials have an incentive to appear tough on crime.

Theres no particular reason a priori, to assume that HR has the same incentives. In fact if anything, the current state of affairs may imply the opposite.


They do: risk of lawsuit. Risk of the PR hit of a Twitter mob descending on the company.


There's a risk of lawsuit from either side though (sexual harrassment/workplace safety vs wrongful termination).


This seems to be an argument against investigating anything ever.


What I am saying is that if someone is genuinely harassing other people, then there will be lots of complaints.

If there is one complaint, then it will be easy to find a dozen of them.

And what I am saying is, a company should only punish someone if they find a dozen of them.

It is not he said she said. It is instead he said and a dozen people said otherwise.

This is what the investigation is for. I am saying that there is nothing wrong with a company punishing the outstandingly obvious cases, which is almost all cases, and then giving the benefit of the doubt to the rest of them.

IE, nobody should ever be punished for a single anonymous complaint. Instead that single anonymous complaint should be used to talk with other people, and to determine if there are instead a dozen of them.

Let the edge cases go unpunished, and target the obvious harrassers, which is almost all of them.

Let's give a similar example. Imagine someone was going into meetings and just yelling slurs at other employees. And they did this mutiple times. Do we need to police to be called to fire this guy? No. We don't.

Do we have to worry about false accusations of this guy yelling slurs at meetings? No. We don't. There will be a dozen people who will easily be able to verify that yes this guy did this thing, mutiple times, and there is no danger in firing him.

And you should also notice that this isn't necessarily even illegal, therefore it makes no sense to call the police.


The problem here, in this naive view, is how you define an "investigation." The moment that "investigation" goes public around the topic of sexual harassment (or worse), the accused is done. That's the real world. I've seen it, several times over. That's important. You shouldn't have the power to significantly wreck someone's life by just making an accusation. There needs to be as much protection for the accused as there is for the accuser.


> If they are innocent then nothing will happen to them as the investigation won't find anything

This is just willfully ignorant. Look at Steven Galloway, or Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim at McGill. Investigation revealed that neither had credible claims of harassment against them. Both of them had irreparable damage done to their careers - the former pushed to the brink of suicide.


So the first demand is "A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality"

I'd like to see the actual data behind this constant inequality claim. I would be genuinely interested to see what kind of difference there is between the sexes when comparing like-for-like jobs.

I've heard speculation that women don't argue for higher salaries as much as men, I've also heard that the data is never accurate because it doesn't compare the same jobs. I want to see some actual numbers so people can figure out where the issue actually lies.


Time magazine, which doesn't exactly seem to be a bastion of conservatism, had an article about this http://time.com/3222543/wage-pay-gap-myth-feminism/ , which had more hard-facts than anyone else I've seen, but the conclusion was that most of the claims made by the wage gap supporters are cherrypicked and false. Although, if Google specifically has a problem with it, I'd definitely be willing to listen. If they are protecting people like Rubin, it does seem plausible that other things could be going on.



Thank you and sorry. Updated it now


I feel if anyone has enough employees with similar roles, at similar levels to pull together this kind of data, it's a big company like Google


> Time magazine, which doesn't exactly seem to be a bastion of conservatism

Although Christina Hoff Sommers does have a noticeable bias/axe to grind since she's pretty anti-feminism and considers there to be a "war against boys". Also she works for the AEI which is a conservative think tank.


When she talks about the "war against boys", she's talking about the school system. Schools overmedicate and overpunish boys. The system drives boys out of school and as a result, only 40% of college students are male. If an inequality like this went the other way, there would be national outrage.

But it's not exactly a "conservative" issue. Plenty of liberals have written about it too:

https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/06/stop-penal...

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a32858/drugging-of-the...

https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2015/...


"Christina Hoff Sommers does not agree with my positions on issues therefore is biased and cannot be trusted, compared to people who do agree with my positions on issues, who are not biased and can be trusted."


"a noticeable bias/axe to grind since she's pretty anti-feminism and considers there to be a "war against boys". Also she works for the AEI which is a conservative think tank."

This strikes me as "poisoning the well."


There is a war against boys. We medicated an entire generation with psychotropic drugs to make them more passive.


The phrase strikes me as hyperbolic, but I agree there is a real problem underlying it.

My point was that people should base their opinions on CHS' claims on her evidence and arguments, rather than who she associates with.


What would you call it then?


For me personally, I would try to talk about the specific issues and describe them, as you did in the second part of your comment. I understand there is a definitely place for using a simple phrase to characterize a larger pattern of inequality. Even using dramatic, colorful phrases which capture the imagination also have their place in the world.

Edit: I'm not trying to change your approach, I'm just being blunt about my opinions. I appreciate your open mindedness.


But the problem is systemic and it needs to be named directly. Skirting around the edges of the problem, trying to be indirect, will not be effective.


>considers there to be a "war against boys"

How is there not? Literally every modern school system favors activities that disproportionally disadvantage young boys. Boys and young men are dropping out of school at a far larger rate than women, and literally nobody cares. It's a travesty.


Agree. When you perform an online search for articles on the "wage gap myth," the majority of the articles seem traceable back to her.


It's because even though there is no data to support the wage gap, it's very unpopular to question it. Christina Hoff Summers is a pioneer in the field of gender equality and has paid a huge price by actually investigating these issues. It's a risky position to take in today's political climate so not many have followed her footsteps.


>there is no data to support the wage gap

This is false.

https://www.epi.org/publication/what-is-the-gender-pay-gap-a...

>it's very unpopular to question it.

Also false, it's very popular (and almost cliché) to dismiss it.

>Christina Hoff Summers... has paid a huge price by actually investigating these issues.

And what price would that be? She seems extremely successful.

http://www.aei.org/scholar/christina-hoff-sommers/


From your link:

"$3.27 less per hour than men. The median hourly wage is $15.67 for women and $18.94 for men.

The gender wage gap is a measure of what women are paid relative to men. It is commonly calculated by dividing women’s wages by men’s wages, and this ratio is often expressed as a percent, or in dollar terms. This tells us how much a woman is paid for each dollar paid to a man. This gender pay ratio is often measured for year-round, full-time workers and compares the annual wages (of hourly wage and salaried workers) of the median (“typical”) man with that of the median (“typical”) woman; measured this way, the current gender pay ratio is 0.796, or, expressed as a percent, it is 79.6 percent (U.S. Census Bureau 2016). In other words, for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes about 80 cents."

It's meaningless to compare different positions pay to each other. "Typical" men vs "typical" women doesn't tell us anything about potential discrimination.


Oh, FFS, c'mon.

There's over 12,800 words in the article and 67 citations. It includes sections such as "How do work experience, schedules, and motherhood affect the gender wage gap?", "How do education and job and occupational characteristics affect the gender wage gap?", "Does a woman’s race, age, or pay level affect the gender gap she experiences?", and "What role do 'unobservables' like discrimination and productivity play in the wage gap?" yet you choose to ignore all of it and argue against something from the introduction that's expanded upon further down.

You're arguing on bad faith here.


It's an argument against adjusted wage gap calculations or comparing salaries in the same roles. I fundamentally object to the very premise.

> You're arguing on bad faith here.

No, I just disagree with you.


[flagged]


How am I arguing in bad faith? He responded to my comment with link to a far left think tank that uses an alternate definition of wage gap than what were talking about.

> "Women earn less than men at every wage level"

It's utterly useless to compare wage levels across different roles. I read the article, I strongly disagree with it.

Do you really think comparing the pay of people in different roles is useful? It's apples and oranges. I don't expect a nurse and an engineer to make the same amount of money. This is my argument and it's not in bad faith.


No, he responded with a 12,000 word article with over 60 references. Your reply was nitpicking a single thing that you feel is something important. Its not, the discussion is wider and deeper than that. By the way your point is dealt with in the article itself. The one you definitely read


What about citing some arguments from the article, so not everyone has to read 12000 words and wade throuh 60 references. It would be easier for everyone to check the validity of the argument then.

There has not been any counterpoint to original disputing of the citation.


Time magazine is absolutely a right-of-center publication. Here’s a nice piece they published last week calling for more nationalism in the US: http://amp.timeinc.net/time/5431089/trump-white-nationalism-...


No it's not. You cherry picked an editorial written by an outside contributor. At the bottom you have:

>TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.

You cannot label an entire outlet conservative or liberal because they bring in people of opposing views to write editorials unless there is an established bias over time (which you have not shown.)

It took me all of twenty seconds to find a liberal leaning editorial: http://time.com/5431836/dna-transgender-history/

Which part of the wage gap article do you disagree with?



UK Office for National Statistics publish good data for the UK.

My impression (based on 2016 stats [0]) is that as most C-suiters are men, and they can get 100s or 1000s of times the money that ordinary employees get, that in the UK this likely accounts for most of the effect that's not accounted for by career breaks (childcare, for example). To reiterate, this is my _impression_ when looking at the data.

Men who work part-time get lower wages; no one cares, it seems.

0 - https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwor...

1 - https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwor...


As an example, company of 100, 50 women. Boss is paid £500k, everyone else gets UK median £35k. Whichever sex the boss is they now show a 26% gender pay gap.

If the boss gets 3x the median, that's a 4% gap.

I'd like to see analysis which looks at same qualified people and charts their progression with attempts to understand why their wage changed and whether those changes have any discernible sex bias.

Men seem to fall across a wider distribution (both higher and lower paid), as appears in other characteristics.



Not only is the data missing variance, but the small print also say that it excludes overtime.

Could I please see the variance in the data which is a very simple, important and often missing aspect when presenting data? I would also like to see the average amount of work hours (and overtime) per industry and gender, the average amount of flex time and other non-income benefits, and common known sources for wage differences such as how often a person changes job. All this is missing, but again the lowest hanging fruit is the variance which make any dataset completely useless (and I stand by this statement) for any complex dataset.


Cool, I'll have to look at the new data clearly, a priori it contradicts my analysis - I only recalled one situation previously where discrimination appears to give higher wages to women (over 30, working full-time), 15% is quite the gap did it make headlines?

Note they don't compare like roles here, just same industry sector IIRC.

The largest gap is 95% in favour of female archivists; that must be anomalous.


Men under 30 earn much less than women under 30. No one cares either.


Isn't that contradicted in Fig. 3 of parent's [0]?

Might have been true until 2015 but not anymore.


Yes, younger women friends post on Facebook how they're stopping work for the year in October (?) to make up for the pay-gap. I assume maybe that's true to some extent in USA -- they're certainly sold on the idea all the men around them are getting an easy deal.


Doesn't that just mean they'll widen the pay gap by not getting paid in October? Then next year they'll need to take two months off, and so on.

At least they'll have plenty of time to post about it on Facebook :)


It's a meme "we should stop working in October [IIRC] because we are only paid for 10 months compared to a man's full year". It's not an actual plan.

I've seen this specific meme a few times; dozens of posts about gender pay gap including from under-30 part-timers who have a good chance - according to the available stats - of being paid more than men in an equivalently skilled role.


"Another stunning but perhaps unsurprising finding was that 63% of the time, men were offered higher salaries than women for the same role at the same company. The report found that companies were offering women between 4% and a whopping 45% less starting pay for the same job. "

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyatarr/2018/04/04/by-the-num...

Report referenced: https://hired.com/wage-inequality-report


At a casual glance, the 4-45% statistic also applies in the inverse direction, so it's fairly meaningless when discussing gender inequality.

The more appropriate statistic would be that "on average, women are offered 4% less" which seems to have been produced by integrating an estimation of the probability density, and looking at the non-symmetry of the distribution. It seems most of that difference is concentrated within 10% on the mean.

So (roughly) if you're a man, you had a 50% chance of being offered 4% more than a woman, and maybe a 30% chance of being offered 4% less than a woman.


> to see what kind of difference there is between the sexes when comparing like-for-like jobs.

What if the pay is equal for like-for-like jobs, but for the higher paying jobs one sex is vastly underrepresented? Not saying it is, just that discrimination and bias often runs deeper than some simple comparison.


What if one gender has a higher variance than another gender? Just don't say that to Google or you may get fired.


The measured difference in distributions is very small.

And if we believed that this was the cause, you'd need to think that Googlers were wildly off the norm in terms of ability. They've got like 90000 employees. They aren't exclusively hiring mega geniuses.


90k out of a population of 7 billion. There's plenty of room for differences in distribution to take effect.


or to Harvard


Then that would be the point of the data. At the moment people are acting on claims of differences in pay across a number of sectors and roles and it's way too vague to pinpoint what the actual issue is.

If the data found an actual issue like this, the it would need to be addressed, but at the moment simply claiming that women are paid less doesn't offer any solution apart from paying women an extra 20% across every single job.


What if one sex is statistcally proven to work more overtime than another sex?

What if one sex takes more paternal leave than another so the other sex spends more time in the office improving skills?


Both of those can be seen as a cultural problem.


A cultural issue perhaps, and one mediated by biology at that. I very much doubt that you go around telling the women in your life that the time they spend outside the office, and lack of vocational ambition, are a social problem that need a political solution.


Then that's not the same problem at all and it needs to be addressed as such.


>I've heard speculation that women don't argue for higher salaries as much as men,...

It's not just arguing for higher salaries but being trusted to follow through when "the going gets tough".

Display of confidence is hard to distinguish from actual capability. Confidence is often mistaken for "can-do-spirit" or "positive attitude" and therefore always favored.

Women are more honest than man about their abilities in the workplace. They are more honest about previous experience in a job interview, and more reluctant to "fake it until they make it":

Excessive confidence displayed by men regarding their ability to follow through even their chances of success are equal to women, leads later to the assumption that the man knew what they were doing (and knew in advance that they will succeed) and hence men are seen as having been in full control the whole time. But actually it's hindsihgt-bias.

>I want to see some actual numbers

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016517651...


you mean more honest people who don't fake it should be paid more? What about meek men then


A lot of replies to ChrisRR's comment go out to the global level, but Google can't fix that. The interesting question is "what kind of difference there is between the sexes when comparing like-for-like jobs" at Google. That's what they can address. Does it exist?

If it does exist, that's a very serious problem, because if Google can't and/or hasn't attained pay parity that would satisfy the people writing this, then pack it in; there's no way it's ever going to happen. Google is just about the best possible environment for parity to happen in, with an almost uniform culture that would support it from top to bottom and enough money that it can pursue almost any parity policy it wants without a serious problem, and a long time frame in which this all should have been true.

If there is still systematic, unsatisfactory bias at Google, what hope is there for these ideas in the rest of the world?


One of the issues is that Google is rather reactive in its compensation - e.g. it only provides high-compensation offers to those who obtain competing offers. This essentially ensures that the highest offers go to those who prioritize being able to get high compensation. In my experience, a lot of software engineers tend to prioritize things other than compensation, and don't really care to try to extract higher compensation if they get to do work they find meaningful or work for a company they think is good. And for whatever reason, a much higher proportion of my male peers have prioritized high compensation compared to my female peers.

I suspect that if Google wanted to remove pay differences between men and women, they would need to start making strong offers to all their candidates - not just those who obtain competing offers and try to negotiate.


That's what they're asking for too: more data.


If any company has the data, it's Google. If they had a good story to tell, I think they'd be sharing that data.


Google has refused and insisted "It's too hard" to release this data.


__If__ it's really a problem, the only way to actually fix this would be to remove any kind of negotation, because two people with identical CVs might settle on vastly different salaries and it's highly unlikely that the employer is going to overcompensate them. However, I've heard people argue that a right to ask for a lower pay is also an advantage in labour market because it's yet another axis of competitiveness.


How would you remove any kind of negotiation though? Say that it's illegal for an applicant to say "You have to pay me X or I won't accept the offer"? Or for an employee to say "Give me a raise of Y, or I'm leaving"? What if they already have an offer from a different company for more money? Can they tell their current employer? And if they do, can the employer offer to increase their wage to keep them? And if they can't, can they offer the employee a "new" higher paid position so it technically isn't a raise/negotiation?


I don't think it's really feasible, for the reasons you mentioned, among others. Nevertheless, there are countries which try to govern (or at least suggest) the min-max salaries that you can expect given your profession/experience/skill, e.g. Germany.

Like many people replying to the OP, I'd like to see some data that looks at it from different perspectives, tho, instead of just picking a side and arguing for it - "there's a wage-gap" vs "look, there actually isn't".


It actually says "inequity" which has a different meaning than 'inequality'.


It actually says "inequity" which has a different meaning than 'inequality'.

Src:

https://mobile.twitter.com/GoogleWalkout/status/105780420389...


great, now we have to figure out if the authors know the difference between inequality and inequity.


The most rational, fact-based reporting I've seen on the wage gap comes from Freakonomics. They have several episodes [0], [1] that dive into the current research.

The TLDR, if I remember correctly, is: Yes, there is a wage gap between genders. It is smaller than most headlines claim, but real. Lots of factors go into this, but it is probably a mix of: companies _can_ pay women less, so they will, and women tend to value some things greater than salary. However, there is no smoking gun we can point to as a definitive root cause.

[0] - http://freakonomics.com/podcast/the-true-story-of-the-gender...

[1] - http://freakonomics.com/podcast/what-can-uber-teach-us-about...


Why should spending your time and effort arguing for higher salary entitle you to a higher salary? Surely, just the opposite.


So I've come to develop a nuanced opinion on this.

I used to fully believe what you said, on the grounds that willingness and ability to negotiate have no bearing on how valuable the employee will be (at least for engineering jobs - it could be different for something like sales where dealmaking ability actually matters).

However, one counterpoint I've come to realize is that if an employee doesn't value higher salary that much, it's a waste of money to pay them more. Thus, by only paying higher salaries that put time and effort into arguing for higher salaries, you make sure to only spend that money on the employees that will actually value all the extra money you're throwing at them.


It is, of course, reasonable to make a "waste of money" argument if you are a pure capitalist.

In any case, this does not constitute an excuse for paying women less.


> I would be genuinely interested to see what kind of difference there is between the sexes when comparing like-for-like jobs.

There really aren't any differences. Just do a simple mental exercise.

Imagine if the gender gap is real. Male programmers demand $100K while female programmers demand $77K for the same exact quality of work. What would this mean? It would mean all tech companies would only hire females.

For comparison look at seasonal farm work. Imagine if migrant workers deman $7.70 per hour while citizens demand $10 per hour for the same quality of work. What do you think the composition of the labor foce on farms would be? I'd imagine it would be mostly migrants. Right?

If the wage gap truly existed, clever feminists would start companies exclusively composed of women and would be putting everyone out of business because they have a 23% profit margin built in.


Sigh.. I've seen this argument so many times I have to wonder if the people peddling it has ever sat on a hiring panel.

The decision to hire someone in a high-skilled job has extraordinarily little to do with their compensation and much more to do with their perceived value. Society has conditioned us to view a certain kind of masculinity as inherent value. Men are rewarded for their aggression and confidence, whereas women are criticized for ego and emotionality.

Perhaps this argument has credence in the low-skilled labor market, but it is not applicable to tech, where compensation packages are routinely so large and supported by large VC funds that those of us who do hire can see those salary differences as negligible. And, even if I were sensitive to those differences, I would not hesitate to pay 30-50k in order to get the right person for the role.

The question here is: are we doing a good job of finding the right person for the role? That is why the Google women are demanding "opportunity equity." Because the system I just described above is prone to failure thanks to unconscious bias.


> Sigh.. I've seen this argument so many times I have to wonder if the people peddling it has ever sat on a hiring panel.

I have interviewed for jobs and have interviewed others for positions on my team. Both startup and traditional 9-5 tech jobs.

> The decision to hire someone in a high-skilled job has extraordinarily little to do with their compensation and much more to do with their perceived value.

It's a bit of both.

> Society has conditioned us to view a certain kind of masculinity as inherent value. Men are rewarded for their aggression and confidence, whereas women are criticized for ego and emotionality.

Is it society or nature? Also, society socializes males to be less aggressive. So I don't agree with your claim.

> Perhaps this argument has credence in the low-skilled labor market, but it is not applicable to tech,

Because in the tech world, aggression is what is sought?

> Because the system I just described above is prone to failure thanks to unconscious bias.

If that is the case, why don't these women create companies and hire only women ( who are supposedly doing the same job for 77% pay of their male counterpart )?

Maybe in construction work or farm work, male traits are highly preferred. But in programming and tech world, it's pretty much what you can do.

You really didn't address my point. If what you are claiming is true, why don't you start a search engine company and hire only women? You would put google out of business in a few short years given your built in 23% profit margin.

Do you realize how significant a naturally embedded profit margin of 23% is?

So I'll ask again. What is preventing you or any other person from starting companies and hiring women if women truly make 77% of a man's wage for the same exact work?


People keep saying this, but it assumes that companies are completely rational actors in hiring, unaffected by human bias. Which is clearly bullshit. For one thing, you can simply prove this by considering the existence of discrimination in the other direction - surely, if companies were hell bent on optimizing their hiring for optimal return on investment, we wouldn't have some of the most profitable companies in the world engaging in the kinds of hiring practices that, e.g., Arne Wilberg is suing about?

See also Dan Luu's discussion of this argument: https://danluu.com/tech-discrimination/


Why make assumptions? I'm an engineer and I make decisions based on data and information presented to me, and try to avoid guess work and assumptions as much as possible.


What about the assumptions you haven’t identified?


Why would you pay people who walk out the same as those who don’t?


Combining "pay inequality" and "opportunity inequality" makes it more difficult to discuss the issue.

We know already that "pay inequality" is fictitious at this point.

So by elimination, that leaves opportunity - however as anyone who has ever worked in a large company knows, it is very difficult, except in a very regimented corporate culture like the military, to have equivalent opportunity spread around evenly. I somehow think Google has a corporate culture that is not very regimented.


How are you defining "pay inequality" while claiming it isn't real?

If I interpret "pay inequality" as "the average pay for women ages 20-60 is less than it is for men 20-60 in the US in 2018" then I've seen data suggesting it is real.


When corrected for all factors there is no pay inequality.

In some instances, such as Hooters waitresses and associate lawyers, women earn slightly more.

You can search for "pay inequality myth" and figure out which argument makes the most sense. Both sides are presented in the search engine I used.

Myself, I think that the issue that pay varies specifically because of the choices that are made is very valid.


> When corrected for all factors there is no pay inequality.

This just isn't true, but I think the problem here is a semantic one. It is true that the more finely tuned your analysis is, the less reasonable it is to conclude that sexism or so called "patriarchy" plays any kind of role.


Something Ive never understood (not in the sense of I dont agree. What I really mean is I'm uneducated on the topic and would like to find out more, but my searches returned little, since it's a pretty heated topic), is why the company should be the primary responsible entity for this. Maybe for light cases where someone just need a stern talking to, but a lot of the cases are downright criminal acts. Having a private entity that has a vested interest in the events seem...unwise.

Shouldn't it be better to have law enforcement handle it, and have companies forced to cooperate instead?

Like, if it's someone who said something slightly inappropriate/gray area to another and just needs a stern talking to, sure. Have a process/HR deal with it. But so many occurrences are so much worse than that...

Not the same situation at all, but similar reasoning: I once had a colleague corner me in the office because of a disagreement in a meeting earlier in the day, where they threatened to "meet me outside to settle things". I mentioned it to my boss/HR/etc, and sure enough, they told me to just talk it out with them and were generally useless. I ended up having to quit. In hindsight, it wasn't my boss I needed to talk to, it was the freagin cops. (Not, of course, cops are frequently useless too, and that's a separate problem...but if we have to change the world somewhere, maybe pushing it all on private entities isn't the best thing to do in this case).


The police are not primarily there to solve civil disputes and disagreements. There is a pretty wide area where things are not illegal and possible to convict, but you would probably want to do something.

The police’s mindset (at least the ones I’ve interacted with) is one of three things:

1. Deterrance from crimes to be committed (doesn’t apply here)

2. Achieve convictions for crimes (would also not apply in your situation)

3. Deploy force to break up ongoing altercations (also doesn’t apply)

2 is interesting. Talk about a specific alleged crime with a police officer and they will not be discussing whether it was a crime or not much, nor if the person committed it, they will be discussing whether it can be proven in a court of law or not that a criminal act was committed by a specific person, beyond reasonable doubt. It is a purely pragmatic operation of “how can I provide proof that something occurred that is against this list of rules”.

The police are in no way useless, most people just misunderstand what their job is. Their job is not to dispense justice, or make sure you get your revenge.

In your specific situation it sucked, but from a police point of view what would they do? Is there a crime? Maybe. Would they be able to present a chain of evidence proving beyond reasonable doubt that a crime occurred - most assuredly not. Would a conviction, however unlikely, achieve something meaningful? Nope, the guy would get a fine at most, but would still be working with you.

On the other hand, an employer is fully within their right to fire someone for a situation like that. They do not have the same burden of proof, they can refer to previous records of incidents, and the consequences would better match what you’d want (removal of the hostile environment).


>Their job is not to dispense justice, or make sure you get your revenge.

This shouldn't be the job of HR either.

What you describe is what civil courts are for. From societal perspective, it is their exact purpose: to dispense justice and prevent revenge. If they don't work, they need to be made to work, instead of relegating this function to random people with random training and random incentives following random policies that are ultimately designed to safeguard companies, not employees.


Why do you think the alternative is a conjunction of randomness at every level? Why not

* the people are HR

* trained in sexual harassment prevention and response

* following a transparent policy approved by the board and a union vote (or something like it, for instance an employee rep on the board like they are asking for)

Maybe this isn't the best alternative. I'm just saying, it's not like the choice is between (a) the government works it out and (b) everything is random.


There are lots of things that are inappropriate for the work place and yet aren't illegal.

And employer is absolutely responsible for dispering judgement on inappropriate, but legal things that happen while at work.

If I go to a co-worker and start yelling slurs at them, I should expect the be fired, even if my behavior wasn't illegal. The same is true for inappropriate sexual actions.


Going through the civil courts is very time-consuming and expensive for all parties involved.

Focusing specifically on the company's perspective, it's also a terrible option from a risk management perspective. It leaves them exposed to the possibility of a very expensive judgment. (Especially if it's a big well-known company that the courts might want to make an example of.) If they can resolve the dispute internally in a quick and satisfactory manner, then that is very much in the company's interest.

Which is exactly why it typically ends up being HR's job. And why it should officially be someone's job.

Framing it this way, I guess the company's internal culture being less dysfunctional because these sorts of problems are more likely to be addressed instead of being allowed to fester is just a happy side effect, but it bears mentioning, all the same.


I mean, Id argue that is exactly the way the system is designed, and it mostly does the job it is designed to do, not just a side effect.

Defining what makes a non-hostile workplace is hard, enforcing it on individuals is harder, so instead delegate that responsibility to each individual company and take action on the company if it does not do that.

In no way is it a perfect system (cue tons of excessively formalized training etc), but it is the best system I know of.

Allowing companies to remove the external force of "If you do not do this, you may face civil action" breaks the model though, so I completely understand why Googlers would like to remove forced arbitration. The risk of that is a contributing factor towards compliance.


Yeah, 100% agreed. Sorry - I was responding specifically to the question of whether HR should be in the loop, and didn't intend to suggest that the civil courts shouldn't also be part of it.

I wouldn't shed a tear if forced arbitration were banned. I can't really see it as not being at least partially an attempt to wiggle out from under the rule of law.


The question the parent comment made was not if the law allows an employer to fire someone for a situation like that, but if we want employers to investigate and prosecute crime when the police drop a case. Is that the role that employers should have in society, yes or no?

> They do not have the same burden of proof

That is a key point. At the same time we want the legal system to have a high burden of proof, but then when someone goes free we want someone else with lower burden of proof to step in and let the hammer fall on the guilty. If we changed the law and gave the police the power to fire someone without having a chain of evidence proving beyond reasonable doubt (this which we are asking the HR departments to do), then I would personally trust the police to do a better job with less bias than a HR department of a large company. It would also create a better political environment where the justice system would be discuses without extrajudicial punishment being used openly as an accepted alternative when we find the legal system lacking.


I would argue that allowing the police to fire individuals from companies would be an egregious violation of human rights on par with disallowing free speech.


Do you think that the average HR department would do a better job at it, and if so why?

What would the optimal system be when we want punishment for crimes when the police drops it because there isn't enough proof.


Companies have their own internal regulations, code of conduct, and cultural norms, and HR is ostensibly knowledgeable of these factors, as well as being trained specifically in employment law. Besides that, there are jurisdiction issues that HR aren't bound to -- e.g. if the alleged violation happened during a work trip to Kentucky or overseas, the complainant isn't required to travel to that court (or deal with the feds) to get the matter adjudicated.

But beyond that, I'm curious why you think the police are the gold standard for handling all of society's disputes? Again, let's ignore that the people and groups who constitute the "police" vary significantly depending on jurisdiction; and also, of course, that the police do not make the ultimate decision to press and pursue charges (that would be the prosecutor's office). The police have the power of government authority and protection behind their decisions and actions, but that is orthogonal to whether they are trained and equipped to come to the right and/or optimal decision.

It's no different than a company hiring private guards for security -- guards who are not only willing to do, well, guard duty, but also are familiar with the company's culture and regulations etc, and are (we would hope) specifically and better-trained for the attack vectors that the company faces. It would be absurd to argue, "Well, that company must not have real security threats if they didn't contract with the police to guard their workplaces"


I don't live in the US so maybe this is cultural, but do you really want the legal outcome of crime to be based on local policy and norms? When I hear about sexual assault give jail time in one town and only a slap on the wrist on an other then that sound like injustice. I have always believed that a sign of a healthy legal system in any nation is when common laws are being enforced equally regardless of local provincial customs, norms or policy. If we apply this to internal process of a company it looks odd that one company should have completely different outcome to an other when an employee commits a crime.

And we don't need to use the police. We could invent a new group called peace keepers with different training, but the key point is that crime is defined in a democratic process that is uniformed applied to every citizen and thus the outcome of crime should be equally uniformed.

Private guards has a very clear line between the domain of the police and what they can do, just like the clear line between the military and the police. Private guards do not investigate crime, do not handle evidence, and is not considered part of the legal system. Similarly it seems natural to me that cases which society defines as crime should not be handled internally by any company. Having overlaps where private guards and the military stepping in as police sounds as a terrible outcome and a sign that something is broken in the legal system. Better to then discuss what is broken and fix it so we can return to equal outcomes for all citizens.


> I don't live in the US so maybe this is cultural, but do you really want the legal outcome of crime to be based on local policy and norms?

This isn't about legal outcomes or crimes.


This is about crime. Threating someone with violence is a offense that society in a democratic process has define as illegal with an legal outcome. Sexual assault is a offense that society in a democratic process has define as illegal with an legal outcome.

There is a very clear line between crime and non-crime.


I'll apologize for my confusion. I was working from the context of u/jlb's comment [0]. and from the context of the posted article, in which none of the Google execs have been accused of a clear-cut crime. But the comment from u/shados that started this thread, and to which you are referring to, was talking about "downright criminal acts" [1].

So when we're talking about a "downright criminal act" -- violent assault, robbery, rape, threats to safety, fraud, etc. -- yes, the police should be brought in, for their powers of investigation and arrest, among other things. But then we're basically arguing a tautology -- "Should the police, whose job is to deal with criminal acts, be called in when a criminal act has occurred?"

What I read in u/shados's question, and subsequent comments, was: if an accusation isn't good enough for police standards, why should a company/HR use it as the basis of firing someone? So my line of argument is mostly irrelevant if you believe that companies have the right to fire people for non-criminal accusations. But I guess the bigger discussion is about the line between what constitutes a criminal act, vs. a civil dispute.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18355200

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18353824


> If you believe that companies have the right to fire people for non-criminal accusations.

I agree with that. Let the legal system deal with criminal acts, the HR department deal with the policy violations by employees, the unions/department for workers deal with regulative violations by employers, and teacher/medical/ectra boards deal with professional violations. It is when one of those start to overrule the factual findings of each other that we need to discuss if something is broken and need to be fixed.

To connect back to the article and Google execs, here in Sweden we have an additional rule for public positions. A person can be fired from such position if they simply loose enough public trust regardless of factual events. In return for such weak employment protection they usually get payouts if they get fired without evidence of fault. This has the benefit that you don't need to debate if the accusation is true, but rather if the public trust (from media and so on) has been lost. In those cases where the legal system do find someone guilty they simply don't get the payout. I wonder if such system would work nicely to deal with execs in large corporations.


The point of a company investigation is to investigate violations of company policies; law enforcement doesn't get involved in determining if company policies were violated, it's simply not in their purview.

If during an investigation they find criminal behavior they can (and usually should) turn over their evidence to law enforcement and let them do their job, which is investigating violations of criminal law.

Violations of company policies and violations of criminal law have huge differences in burden of proof.

People sometimes confuse the two and say things like "they should have never been punished at work because they weren't convicted in a court of law." But that's not exactly how it works, the burden of proof for work punishment is simply a large magnitude lower than legal punishment.

Most workplace harassment is not criminal. Most violations of company policy aren't criminal.


In these situations, companies aren't sued for harassment, but for having a hostile work environment; allowing harassment to persist (e.g. by retaining harassing employees). If an employer has effective mechanisms to deal with cases of harassment, then it shouldn't be liable.

Even if a harasser was prosecuted or sued successfully, if the company retained them, that would create a hostile work environment for the harassee, and make the employer liable.

There's also the case of quid pro quo harassment, where a superior makes someone's career progression tied to the harassment, in which case it may be harder to distinguish the company's liability from the harasser. But even in such cases, an effective system to report such behaviour can mitigate the company's liability. In such cases, claims often surround retaliation for reporting harassment (e.g. employee transferred, demoted or fired in response to a harassment report.)


I'm surprised at how many other responses here are saying "because the police don't have the resources to investigate" and similar.

This reply gets to the more fundamental point: companies are doing a different thing than police investigations or even civil suits over harassment. They can't undo the harassment, they can't punish the harasser (beyond termination with cause), or force the harasser to compensate their victim.

Rather, the goal is to create a workplace where employees are not harassed. This is good for both legal reasons (hostile work environment suits) and obvious moral (harassment is bad) and practical (people will quit) reasons.

If a coworker mocked or punched me every day at work, it might or might not produce a complaint to the police or a civil suit against the coworker. But it would certainly be something that made my employment untenable and a reasonable employer would react to that. People are in general not demanding that employers act in place of the police, they're demanding that they act to stop sex-related hostility at least as thoroughly as they would act against other hostility. It's the purview of the company because it's a completely different task than what courts or police would do.


> ...why the company should be the primary responsible entity for this...Having a private entity that has a vested interest in the events seem...unwise.

All other issues aside: the company should want to make an environment where good people want to work and can work without "distractions" (using the word very broadly and generically, not dismissing people's important concerns!!!). So it's in their self interest to deal with them well.

This line of argument isn't that different from the GP's analogy to site uptime.


> Something Ive never understood (not in the sense of I dont agree. What I really mean is I'm uneducated on the topic and would like to find out more, but my searches returned little, since it's a pretty heated topic), is why the company should be the primary responsible entity for this.

Because sexual harassment is a form of illegal sex-based employment discrimination by the company. Individual unwelcome acts that don't rise to that level aren't sexual harassment (legally), but may be warning signs that if not corrected rise to the level of an offense by the company.

> Maybe for light cases where someone just need a stern talking to, but a lot of the cases are downright criminal acts.

And for those, the company’s responsibility as regards harassment does not negate the role of law enforcement as regards the criminal violation. The police are not pushed aside in favor or private action. In addition, harassment events, whether or not a crime is involved, can be directly reported to federal, or usually also state (who will dual-file with the federal EEOC), anti-discrimination authorities; the employer process mostly if a mechanism to catch conduct before it reaches the level of discrimination and to manage the company's exposure when it did reach that level.

> Shouldn't it be better to have law enforcement handle it, and have companies forced to cooperate instead?

That's not an “instead” or “better”, because the options aren't mutually exclusive; where a criminal accusation is involved,law enforcement retains their usual role in investigating and prosecuting crimes, including compulsory process which can be directed at parties with relevant information, including employers.


The reason is that the bar is simply too low. Or rather, the bar for taking legal action is so high that it would not in a million years create an acceptable work environment at Google.

Think about it from another perspective. If Google wants to cherry-pick the brightest and best educated people from society, they're going to have to meet a higher standard themselves. Would you want that standard encoded in law for the rest of the state? If so, how would you, in a democracy, impose a standard crafted by a subset of the cultural elite for themselves on the rest of the state or the country? Changing cultural norms drag the law behind them, not the other way around. The legal standard will lag behind for a long time, and Google's employees are part of the force that will be leading it forward.


Sadly the police don’t have the resources to go “investigate” every time someone said let’s settle this outside. Where do you drawn the line for stern talking and police investigation. Your idea sounds good in theory but in practice doesn’t work.


>Sadly

*Thankfully


You're probably more correct, I was trying to empathize with OP but I do agree I don't think the police are the right party for this mediation.


What if we created a new government organization to fill where we find that the police is not the right party to address illegal behavior. We could call them peace officer which mediate in disputes with power to fire and discipline people with the exact same requirement and behavior that we want out of the perfect HR department. This way we would raise the standard to be equal for all people that are employed regardless of company.


Civil court?


> I ended up having to quit.

wow. that sounds like a really bad situation. i mean, did you quit because of an ongoing threat of violence from this individual? the company should have offered other remedies before it came to that.


As you point out, the cops are often useless too. Now imagine you call the cops on your boss and they show up to talk with him/her. How might your boss be treating you after this?


The same is true for HR; that's why there is additional rles around retaliation.


This entire protest would have generally been a non-event if the company hadn't sent out a memo telling managers to accommodate people who want to participate, ensure there is no retaliation or penalty, be flexible with schedules, etc., effectively advertising the event to everyone in the process. So then it looks like employees are being unsupportive of their co-workers if they don't participate. Which sort of shuffles the understanding of a "walk out" to be a far cry from the sort of thing that happened in the union days, and puts this firmly in the Just Google Things category, where even protesting the company becomes an activity that the company officially supports.


One view is that management knows that and did it anyway.

Perhaps they felt it was worth letting it be a bigger event and taking a PR hit if in return what they get is that the employees feel that the company supports them.


Good Machiavellian way to oust competing managers as well. Personally, that would be a horrible thing to do to another person, but then again, we know at least some of these managers kept silent during this whole fiasco; we're not talking about saints here.


Oh. So they're not all going to be fired.


Very disappointed with mainstream media coverage here.

The walkout is being headlined as a complaint against harassment. It's not. It's a complaint against the company (rightly so) valuing its corporate reputation in the world in which we live vs standing behind the victims as if they were family, and going medieval (eg excommunication) on the harassers.

Certainly there's a balance and perhaps google is on the wrong side of it, but don't kid yourself, google isn't going to take your insignificant side of it when the other side is a $100MM liability to an executive.

That a walkout like this only happens at Google and not, say, microsoft, where surely sexual harassment also occurs and is also brushed aside, is telling about the employee culture at Google. It's sad that the media coverage is so trivial and can't look deeper.

And to the organizers: you should have recruited tech workers at all FAANG to support this walkout. You missed a moment.


> That a walkout like this only happens at Google and not, say, microsoft, where surely sexual harassment also occurs and is also brushed aside, is telling about the employee culture at Google.

There's a much simpler explanation than you are implying. The trigger for Googlers is the story from last week in the NYT about a former Google exec.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/technology/google-sexual-...


Yes of course. I recognize that, but I don't understand your argument. Are you saying that from the cause of mainstream media (NYT) exposure of this payment, to the effect of a walkout, there is no aspect of Google-specific culture that makes this a unique Google occurrence? This was primed by previous walkouts such as the protest against the Trump immigrant travel ban nearly 2 years ago, and previous Google-internal petitions against things such as G+ real names (which people actually quit over) and the now infamous Damore memo.

Your comment seemingly argues that the story is just a simple one and I'm a fool (rhetorically) for thinking there's anything deeper.

I submit, again, that there is a deep story here that was missed.


How do you know sexual harassment at Microsoft is brushed aside? (I haven't heard reports either way.)


I don't know it for fact, but let's not be naive.

The last reported (2017) makeup of $MSFT in the US was 75% male, overall, and 81% for tech workers. 63000 employees in the US and 131k worldwide.

Do you really think that in an org that size with a demographic overwhelmingly skewed male, that there isn't sexual harassment going on? And lots of it unreported and lots of it dismissed?


I assume there is harassment going on. I have no idea how much of it is and reported or dismissed. I worked there and saw absolutely none for four years, although that is not dispositive. Being old and a citizen of the USA I believe in the old-fashioned notion of innocent until proven guilty.


>is telling about the employee culture at Google.

How so? They have risked nothing by participating because Google isn't a high school where you break a rule by going outside.


How is this handled at other biggies in the valley - Apple, Microsoft etc? Do they also have the arbitration thing?

There was an awesome site on the front page yesterday, that compared career levels in the companies. Someone should make one comparing these companies on things like - treatment of women/minorities, age discrimination, side project policies, access to upper management etc


I have never understood why employees accept the restrictive clauses which assign ownership for any side projects to the employer. I am not a lawyer, but this has always struck me as amounting to a type of serfdom. If you are seen as a 24/7 unit of the company, and anything at all that you creatively produce can be claimed by the company, then your working capacity and creative capacity is essentially owned entirely by the company while you are employed there. You are not being paid just for your time and the work product you produce during that time. Rather you are literally selling an aspect of yourself. Does that sound reasonable at all? (of course, California has some protections against this. but that's just one state)

I would really like to see people rallying against many more things like this.


Because the rent is due and I have no money?

Maybe for a lot of the higher end HN devs out there, they can walk and be reasonably certain they'll pick up work in under a month. Personally, I've known a LOT of people (some in software too) that need 6-9 months to find any work in their field. Yeah, Uber and pizza delivery make some ends meet, but for a 'real' job with a 401k and benefits, it can take a LONG time. And at the end of that timeline, they can offer you really anything and you know you have to take that offer.

Anecdata: I'm in biotech and got offered 55k on the Peninsula at the end of about 2 months of interviewing for that particular company. They were the only people that would interview me over ~9 months of applying (caveat: biotech isn't doing well right now). The minimum wage of my 'stop-gap' auto mechanic job in a particular city is 60k. The biotech company would not budge at all.


They tolerate it because it’s largely unenforceable.


That is one reason.

Many people aren't even aware of such draconian policies they are signing up for. And companies are probably counting on it too.

It is also possible that even the owners of the company (especially small, family owned companies) aren't aware of these dumb policies. They just trust their lawyers to write up the contracts. There was a comment recently on HN - employee reads up the contract, goes to the owner to ask about some clause, and the owner himself is surprised and calls the lawyer to sort it out.

Big companies that spend shit ton of money on lawyers have no excuse - they're likely doing all this intentionally.


It’s like they select a box for “maximum liability protection” not realizing some of it provides no protection at all


I had one success simply not signing a non-compete I was handed on orientation day. I returned the packet of docs without that one and never heard a thing about it.


My understanding (from working with lawyers in the past) is that it is enforceable in some states and unenforceable in others. I'm not a lawyer, though, and so don't really know first-hand.


Microsoft used to require arbitration but got rid of it earlier this year after the deserved outcry. Apple still has it AFAIK.


a recent change in California law: Governor Brown recently signed Senate Bill 820 which prohibits secret settlements and non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases.

in other words, if a private settlement is agreed to, the victim's name may be kept confidential, but not the perpetrator’s.


This is one (imperfect) source of info I've used during my search for potential new employers: https://www.teamblind.com/surveys/2017


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